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Palestinians little moved by Bush visit

In the Shuafat refugee camp in Jerusalem, residents say that Israeli interests will trump theirs despite Bush's vow of a peace deal this year.

Ramallah, West Bank: President Bush met Palestinian Authority President Abbas Thursday and said he expected a peace deal by year's end.

Martinez Monsivais/AP

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While President Bush stood in Ramallah Thursday speaking of plans for a way out of the conflict that defines daily life for millions of Palestinians, many of the people he hoped to convince that a peace deal with Israel is on the horizon simply dismissed his promises as kalam fadi – empty words.

Not far from the Palestinian Authority offices where Mr. Bush met President Mahmoud Abbas, men sat huddled at a popular local cafe watching the two stand side by side for the first time on Palestinian soil.

"For us, the Bush visit failed even before he arrived. This visit worked in favor of Israeli interests, not for the Palestinians," says Khader Dibs, a middle-age father and manager of the local sanitation office who was among many who sat watching the speeches on new flat-screen television hanging on the wall, which turns the Abu Kheir Cafe in the Shuafat Refugee Camp into something of a town square. Men came to discuss the politics of the day and women stopped in to eavesdrop while they picked up a tub of the freshest hummus in town.

Palestinians here say they wish Bush would come to their neck of the woods, too, to see what it means to have their freedom of movement constantly curtailed.


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