Last fall, in an exchange over tactics from national Republicans that helped liberal Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R.I.) narrowly avoid defeat by a conservative primary opponent, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow and I got into a somewhat heated dispute about the definition of the word “egregious” (which I used to characterize the tactics that helped rescue Chafee, who went on to lose the November election.)
At the gaggle (early morning briefing) at the White House today, Snow and I did not have harsh words, but he nonetheless left me a bit confused about the President’s use of the word “contiguous”, which Mr. Bush only yesterday used to describe his vision of a Palestinian State.
At an address on Middle East policy in the East Room of the White House yesterday, the President said that current negotiations “must guarantee that a Palestinian State is viable and contiguous.”
According to Webster’s Dictionary, “contiguous” means “to have contact with” and synonyms cited for the word at “touching” and “adjoining.” The last time I checked, the Gaza Strip portion of the current Palestinian Directorate does not touch or adjoin the remaining portion because it is separated by Israel.
When I asked Snow how the Administration defines a Palestinian State that is contiguous today, he told me “contiguous is the term of art for a Palestinian State that includes Gaza and the West Bank.” Beyond that, the President’s top spokesman added, he was “not going to get into final status negotiations from the podium.”
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