« Iraq: Democracy postponed | Main | beyond boring »

May 27, 2003

Israeli occupation

Well. Well. Well.

I never thought Sharon would accept the road map nor get its acceptance through his cabinet. I thought he was a prisoner of the far right ethnic and religious nationalists. It now appears not. I thought that Sharon's Likud Party would resist it to the bitter end. And he got it through cabinet without consulting the Likud parliamentary party.

Consider this description of the road map by The Washington Post:

"The road map, drafted by the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations, calls for an immediate cease-fire, followed by a series of simultaneous confidence-building steps by the two sides, including the disarming and dismantling of Palestinian militant groups, the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a freeze on Jewish settlement expansion and the immediate dismantling of small settlement outposts established in the past two years. The plan calls for the creation of a "provisional" Palestinian state by the end of this year and a fully independent and sovereign state by 2005."

The Israel Cabinet must have choked on that content.

But then what they have accepted is the steps not the content of the road map. Looks like a way to buy time to me.

And I'm still having trouble coming to terms with this. Sharon saying that Israel is an occupying force and that keeping "3.5 million Palestinians under occupation is bad for Israel and the Palestinians." Is that Sharon saying that? Sharon is the first Israeli prime minister to use the term occupation in reference to Israels presence on lands captured in the 1967 all-out war launched by its Arab neighbors.

This paper spells out the international (UK) pressure on George Bush to push ahead with the road map, and the internal (Jewish) constraint on him not to pressure Israel to make any concessions.

Is Sharon carving out a place in history as the determining voice in where Israel goes next and a key role in Washingtons design for a new Middle East? Is he going to the Middle East power broker?

Addition

And The Sydney Morning Herald is equally puzzled. Its editorial says:

"Could the man who has so vehemently pursued a military solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have had such a change of heart? Or could Mr Sharon, a veteran of decades of failed peace efforts, simply be maneuvering within the new confines of the post-Iraq international environment."

And the answer the SMH gives?

"Whether of not the Israeli hawk is sincere in his conversion to the long, arduous process of a negotiated peace will only now be revealed as those negotiations progress."

Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at May 27, 2003 09:44 AM

Comments

Israel has accepted these plans before.

Deliberately or not the record is: 1. make impossible demands of the Palestinian which add to the agreed plan; 2. announce you have no duty to implement your own commitments until the Palestinians meet your new demands; 3. continue supporting and/or creating settlements; 4. wait for the international media to announce that the plan is dead.

This is roughly what they did to Oslo and indeed to the original recognition agreement with Sadat. There is nothing so far to indicate that this plan is any different or that Bush has any understanding of the failure of previous plans.

Posted by: Alan at May 27, 2003 01:06 PM

I'm inclined to agree.Trim the sails in response to US pressure.

So what is Sharons's comments about Israel as an occupying force. More tacking in the wind?

Posted by: Gary Sauer-Thompson at May 27, 2003 02:03 PM

Yes, this is a forward step; there will now be at least two backwards. Pessimists, aren't we? But realists too.

Posted by: Glenn at May 27, 2003 06:24 PM

Realists may be, but in reality, there is only one way out of the current problem, and that is for both parties to agree to disagree and live together, whether as combined demographics or seperate states cooperating for the common good. It IS the only way.

Posted by: Niall at May 27, 2003 07:42 PM

That's true - but one side enjoys a massive advantage over the other in every field that matters. This advantage is so great that it encourages Israeli opportunism and ruthlessness (not an especially Israeli trait, I hasten to add.. one in fact I'm sure would be just as evident in the Arabs if the advantage ran the other way). So a fair compromise (one that would satisfy an eminent Martian jurist here on holidays) is a long way from the minds of the dominant partner in this awful pas-de-deux. Their mindset (and the one they have successfully duped the American public with) is 'your suicide bombers have left you without normal human rights; children, the elderly, all of you.. and you'd better keep your noses clean if you want any of the scraps that fall off our table'.

This is still the case despite Sharon's latest faux-compromise. We can take him seriously when the settlements start to be dismantled; at the very least when they actually stop building the bloody things.

Posted by: Glenn at May 28, 2003 11:32 AM

So Alan, Arafat and the Palestinians had no hand in the failure of Oslo?

Posted by: Garth at May 28, 2003 03:09 PM

Garth, the point is that no national representative in their right mind would have signed that agreement. Barak wouldn't have, Sharon wouldn't have, I wouldn't, you wouldn't. Unless you'd be happy to return to your people with the glad tidings that Israel will control access to water and power and that your 'sovereign' land would be effectively divided into perhaps 200 cantons by roads only for Israeli use, purportedly for 'security reasons'.

Arafat is an untrustworthy, corrupt chancer of a man but you don't judge an entire people by their leader or the behaviour of their political class, particularly when they have been given no chance in the last 40 years to grow the sort of democratic institutions we enjoy.

The Palestinians were guilty of grandstanding and errors of judgement, but the weight of blame lies with Israel for the cynicism of their 'offer'. It is a measure of the breadth and depth of their influence and power around the Western world that people like yourself have this absurd notion that Oslo failed thru Palestinian intransigence.

Posted by: Glenn at May 28, 2003 06:37 PM

Post a comment




Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)