Last week, the State Department upbraided the Knesset for repealing a 2005 law forbidding Jews from entering or living in a small area of the West Bank, on the grounds that doing so “represents a clear contradiction of undertakings” that “Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on behalf of Israel affirmed in writing to George W. Bush.” Elliott Abrams comments:
In an exchange of letters on April 14, 2004, Bush gave Sharon the support he needed to complete the Gaza withdrawal. Bush’s letter made several important statements: that the United States would impose no new peace plan on Israel beyond what was already agreed; that the United States would “preserve and strengthen Israel’s capability to deter and defend itself, by itself, against any threat or possible combination of threats”; and that the Palestinian refugee problem would be solved in [the West Bank and Gaza] rather than by moving Palestinians to Israel. More relevant, Bush also said that “in light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.” In other words, Israeli settlements were realities, and the United States understood that in any final status agreement, Israeli borders would reflect their location.
This formal exchange of letters, upon which Sharon relied, was then endorsed by Congress. The United States Senate voted 95–3 in favor on June 23, 2004, and the House of Representatives supported the Bush–Sharon commitments by a vote of 407–9 on the following day.
Why is this an act of hypocrisy? Because it was the United States, under the Obama–Biden administration in 2009, that claimed that the 2004 exchange of letters and commitments was absolutely of no consequence and not binding on the United States. . . . The Obama administration had already torn up any such commitment and turned the Bush–Sharon exchange of April 2004 into a pair of dead letters.