Former President George W. Bush accused Iran of providing the hidden hand behind the unfolding Israeli-Palestinian violence that has claimed hundreds of lives as he warned that hopes of a two-state solution were fading.
Israel pounded targets in Gaza while Hamas militants fired rockets as the fighting entered its 10th day on Wednesday.
In an interview to promote a new book of his paintings, Bush said Iran was responsible for spreading instability throughout the Middle East and that any deal with Tehran must address its malign influence as well as its nuclear ambitions.
On the Israeli-Palestinian violence, he told Fox News what ‘you’re seeing playing out is Iranian influence targeted toward Israel.’
There is no end in sight to the conflict. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday shrugged off President Joe Biden’s demands for a de-escalation.
Former President George W. Bush said ‘Iranian influence targeted toward Israel’ was playing out in Gaza-Israel violence that has killed more than 200 people
An Israeli artillery unit fires shells towards targets in Gaza Strip, at the Israeli Gaza border, Wednesday, May 19, 2021.
Family and friends mourn during the funeral of Israeli man, Yigal Yehoshua, who died after succumbing to his wounds, sustained during Arab-Jewish violence in the mixed city of Lod, at a cemetery in Moshav Hadid on Tuesday
Iranian leaders have urged on Hamas militants in their attacks.
Iranian state media reported that the commander of its Quds Force spoke with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, offering his praise for attacks on Israel.
And Hamas, which does not recognize Israel’s right to exist and has run Gaza since 2007, has publicly attributed its rocket prowess to aid from Iran in the past.
Bush said any engagement between Washington and Tehran must involve understanding Iran’s reach in the Middle East.
‘I think the best approach with regard to Iran is to understand that their influence is dangerous for world peace, that they are very much involved with extremist movements in Lebanon and Syria and Yemen, and they are aiming to spread their influence,’ he said.
The latest escalation represents the worst fighting since 2014.
At least 219 Palestinians and 12 people in Israel have died.
Palestinian protesters throw back tear gas grenades during clashes with Israeli troops at Huwwara checkpoint near the West Bank City of Nablus
The IDF began releasing details of its ‘hit list’ as commanders called for more time to continuing hunting Hamas leaders, despite growing calls for a ceasefire. Fighting has now entered its ninth day, with attacks continuing from both sides
The Biden administration is committed to a two-state solution, with a Palestinian state existing alongside Israel, as the only way to resolve decades of conflict.
‘I think it’s very difficult at this stage,’ Bush said.
‘I wish, obviously, all of us should hope there’s not violence, but what I think you’re seeing playing out is Iranian influence targeted toward Israel, and trying to break up alliances that were formed in the previous administration called the Abraham Accords.’
The Abraham Accords were signed during the Trump administration, bringing together Israel and a string of Arab states, starting with the United Arab Emirates, normalizing relations and striking deals on everything from tourism to telecommunications.
Critics say it left Palestinians feeling isolated from their regional allies but supporters said it showed how historic grievances could be left behind.
‘Once the sit-in settles down, and if those Abraham Accords hold, it will make it easier to establish peace,’ Bush said.
‘But right now, those who don’t want peace are provoking and attacking Israel, and Israel is, of course, responding for national security reasons.’
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden spoke to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanding a de-escalation of strikes as a step towards a truce.
But Netanyahu made clear he would not pause until Israel’s objectives had been achieved.
‘I am determined to continue this operation until its goal is achieved – to restore peace and security to you, the citizens of Israel,’ he said.