J Street mourns the death of former President George H.W. Bush and remembers with gratitude his contributions to Israel, the Jewish people and to Middle East peace.
President Bush not only understood that Israeli settlements were a major obstacle to peace, but was willing to take action to oppose them. Demonstrating bold and effective leadership, he was willing to put pressure on the Israeli government to curb settlement expansion, knowing that this was necessary if progress was to be made toward an ultimate resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
As a result, Bush was able to convince Israel, Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Palestinian representatives to convene the 1991 Middle East peace conference in Madrid. That breakthrough diplomatic achievement helped pave the way for the Oslo Accords a few years later, which brought the parties closer to peace than ever before or since. Tragically, that hope still remains to be redeemed.
President Bush also helped facilitate the rescue of Ethiopian Jews and the rescue of the small Jewish community in Syria and supported the right of Jews in the former Soviet Union to seek a better life in Israel and elsewhere. In 1990, he persuaded Israel to stay out of the First Gulf War, helping to prevent the war from expanding into a much wider, deadlier and more complex conflict.
Our thoughts and condolences are with the the former president’s family and loved ones.