Unilateralism and Its Discontents

(Jerusalem Post) Dennis Ross - The administration is unlikely to put any pressure on Israel in an election year, is preoccupied with Iraq, and has little faith that the PA can do anything so long as Arafat has veto power over any security measures. Yet the expected lack of high visibility initiatives does not imply a lack of options. There are at least three: a limited Israel-PA deal, Palestinian regime change, and coordinated unilateralism. A Limited Deal: Sharon and Qurei could agree on a comprehensive cease-fire. Palestinians agree that no Israelis can be attacked on either side of the "green line," and the Israelis agree to stop targeted killings and arrest sweeps. Both may even be able to agree on a number of steps by the Palestinians to enforce a cease-fire and limit the ability of groups like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Al-Aksa Martyrs' Brigades to wage terror. Going beyond these steps to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, as called for in the road map, is something Qurei knows Arafat will not permit. Palestinian Regime Change: If, as President Bush declared, a Palestinian state cannot be built on the foundation of terror and corruption, then it is clear that no Palestinian state can emerge so long as Arafat dominates the Palestinian landscape. Arafat has never sought to delegitimize terror, continuing to refer to Palestinians who carry out acts of terror as martyrs, and he remains the main roadblock to Palestinian reform. If he blocks all possibility of change, why not remove him from the territories and make clear he can never return? The likely response to his expulsion will be the immediate collapse of the PA, chaos within the territories, competition to see who can be more anti-Israeli, and the strengthening of groups like Hamas. Coordinated Unilateralism: Unilateralism represents a default option. If the first two options are off the table, something must still be done to meet the need to transform the current situation. If the Palestinians do not fulfill their security responsibilities, they leave Israel only two choices - preserving the siege with all its checkpoints or building a security barrier and unilaterally withdrawing from part of the territory. For Israelis, unilateralism could produce security and an enduring Jewish majority. For Palestinians, it could mean a restoration of normal life, including the lifting of checkpoints. The Bush administration could devote its efforts to managing the emerging unilateralism.

2004-01-23 00:00:00

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