Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is a man of deeds rather than words. So on those
rare occasions when he does disclose his political goals it is important to pay
close attention and carefully consider every word.
Incidentally, it was during his recent visit to
the U.S. that Sharon revealed how he foresees the developments between Israel
and the Palestinian Authority to a group of Jewish donors. He divulged a plan he
has not yet talked about in Israel, at least not in a public forum.
“There won’t be negotiations with the Palestinians about Jerusalem or the
settlement blocs of Ariel, Ma’aleh Edumim, and Gush Etzion,” Sharon said, adding
that “they will remain eternally under Israeli sovereignty within a contiguous
territory.” This straightforward sentence reveals both the method which
Israel’s premier intends to embrace and a crucial element informing the
substance of his plans.
Concerning the method, Sharon clearly stated that he intends to replicate the
unilateralist approach he adopted vis-à-vis the Gaza withdrawal. Israel, in
other words, does not plan to discuss two of the most central aspects of the
occupation -- East Jerusalem and the large Jewish settlement blocs -- and will
force its plan on the Palestinians. Peace, according to this Machiavellian
logic, is achieved when the strong impose their will on the weak.
No less important is the substance, and particularly the two words with which
Sharon concluded his sentence; namely, “contiguous territory.” This seemingly
benign phrase is well worth noting, since the attempt to create a contiguous
territory from the Jewish settlement blocs is tantamount to declaring war.
Allow me to explain. Ariel is a large settlement located in the heart of the
West Bank’s northern part. The settlement Ma’aleh Edumim is located about 30 km
southeast of Ariel, while Gush Etzion is located another 20 km southwest of
Ma’aleh Edumim, and is situated in the West Bank’s southern part. Connecting
these three settlement blocs means that the territory Sharon intends to offer
the Palestinians will not be contiguous (except maybe by building
tunnels!), and that Israel plans to annex a large portion of the Palestinian
state-to-be, which is already a very small entity (22 percent of Mandatory
No Palestinian leader can accept such a solution. But since negotiations, at
least regarding these crucial issues, are not on Sharon’s agenda, the
Palestinian position is, in a sense, besides the point.
The outcome of such a move will no doubt be devastating, since unlike Israel’s
withdrawal from Gaza which has been endorsed by all of the Palestinian political
factions, including Hamas, Sharon’s West Bank plan will be unanimously rejected.
Resistance will most likely mount and the bloody cycle of violence will resume,
this time with even greater vengeance.
teaches politics at Ben-Gurion University, Israel, and is currently a visiting
scholar Center for Middle East Studies at University of California, Berkeley.
He is the editor of
From the Margins of Globalization: Critical Perspectives on Human Rights and
can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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