foxnews EXCLUSIVE: Former President George W. Bush told Fox News on Wednesday that Iran is “dangerous” for stability in the Middle East and the world, while warning that a two-state solution amid the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be “very difficult at this stage.”
In an exclusive interview with Fox News about his new book, “Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants,” Bush highlighted the story of Mariam Memarsadeghi — an Iranian immigrant who, during the Iranian Revolution of 1979, came to the United States and has dedicated her career to the pursuit of democracy in Iran.
When asked about the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian violence, Bush told Fox News that what “you’re seeing playing out is Iranian influence targeted toward Israel.”
“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,” Bush told Fox News, when asked about how the U.S. should engage with Tehran.
“Any deal that is done has got to not only focus on its nuclear capabilities, but also its influence in the Middle East,” Bush continued. “And you know, any deal, you’ve got to keep in mind the dangers of an aggressive Iran to our allies, and to stability, so it has to be a comprehensive look.”
Bush’s comments come as Israeli-Palestinian violence continues – the worst violence since 2014.
The Biden administration says a two-state solution is “the only way to have a long-term outcome that’s peaceful and lasting,” but Bush told Fox News that remedy will be a challenge.
“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.” Video
Bush was referring to what the Trump administration called a “historic peace agreement” between Israel and the United Arab Emirates that normalized relations and created bilateral agreements regarding “investment, tourism, direct flights, security, telecommunications, technology, energy, health care, culture, the environment, the establishment of reciprocal embassies, and other areas of mutual benefit.” At the time, Israel and the UAE also said they will continue their efforts to “achieve a just, comprehensive and enduring resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
“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.”
“And so, it’s going to take a while,” Bush said of negotiating a two-state solution, recalling his efforts under his administration.
“It is going to require the Arab world deciding that peace with Israel is important for solving the Palestinian issue,” Bush said.
The Biden White House said this week that its strategy is “through quiet, intensive diplomacy.”
Bush said if he were in office, he, too, “would be working quietly.”
“There is a lot of pressure, obviously, on the White House,” Bush said. “I don’t know all the circumstances, but I think the U.S. does have a role in trying to deal with violence.” Video
He added: “You’ve got to understand that Israel is going to defend itself. So long as there is a threat to their people, they will defend itself.”
On Wednesday, President Biden spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the White House said the two “had a detailed discussion of the state of events in Gaza, Israel’s progress in degrading the capabilities of Hamas and other terrorist elements, and ongoing diplomatic efforts by regional governments and the United States.”
“The President conveyed to the Prime Minister that he expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire,” the White House said in a statement.
However, after a visit to military headquarters hours later, Netanyahu said he “greatly appreciates the support of the American president” but said Israel will push ahead “to return the calm and security to you, citizens of Israel.”
He added that he is “determined to continue this operation until its aim is met.”
Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, has launched a sustained rocket campaign targeting civilian areas in Israel; in response, Israel directed heavy artillery and airstrikes into Gaza, killing at least 180 people, including 55 children and 33 women. Over 1,200 people have been wounded.
Gaza health officials say at least 219 Palestinians have been killed so far by Israeli airstrikes in the most recent round of fighting, which began more than a week ago. Twelve people in Israel have been killed in rocket attacks.
Meanwhile, Bush told Fox News the United States “has a role as a peacemaker” while acknowledging that “sometimes, conditions are good for a settlement, and sometimes they’re not,” adding that the U.S. has to “see its way through until peace talks can begin, if they do at all.”
“Out of Many, One,” is a collection of stories and oil paintings by Bush and spotlights the “inspiring journeys of America’s immigrants and the contributions they make to the life and prosperity of our nation.”
The book includes portraits and profiles of North Korean refugees fighting for human rights, a Dallas-based CEO who entered the U.S. from Mexico as a teenager, a NASA engineer who “as a girl in Nigeria dreamed of coming to America,” along with other notable figures in business, politics, sports and entertainment.
The FOX News exclusive interview airs on April, 25 at 10 P.M. ET. with Dana Perino
Proceeds collected from the sale of the book are expected to benefit organizations mentioned throughout its pages that “help immigrants resettle, as well as the Bush Institute” and its work on immigration.
Bush writes that a “comprehensive immigration solution deserves our serious attention, our benevolent spirit, and our sober analysis.”
Also in the forward, Bush refers to the words E Pluribus Unum, Latin for “Out of Many, One,” the title of the book, saying the motto “refers to our country’s makeup of many states and many backgrounds.”
“It is a nod to one of our greatest strengths—our unique ability to absorb people from different backgrounds and cultures into one nation under God,” Bush writes. “To forever remain a shining city upon a hill, a beacon of liberty, and the most hopeful society the world has ever known, America only needs to remember that strength.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.