Harnessing the Internal Opposition

(Jerusalem Post) Herb Keinon - The fact that Sharon is facing so much internal opposition to the disengagement plan, but remains committed to it, will resonate favorably in Washington, and may increase the Bush administration's willingness to support the plan with firm commitments that Sharon can then take home to help convince his wavering ministers. Sharon is hoping that if he goes to Washington under fierce political fire, the Bush administration will look at his plight, realize new Israeli elections would just push everything off even longer and give the terrorists more of an opportunity to set the agenda, and decide that the least they can do is give him full backing. Sharon wants a full-throated U.S. endorsement of the plan; a U.S. commitment to help garner international support for it; a public U.S. nod that it does not expect Israel to withdraw fully to the 1967 lines but can eventually retain the large settlement blocs in the West Bank; and a promise that Israel will not come under any U.S. pressure to consider new diplomatic initiatives until Arafat is removed. Officials in the Prime Minister's Office have become fond of describing the whole disengagement idea as a "parking place." Disengagement, and its cousin the security fence, is not the final agreement with the Palestinians, but a place where Israel will "park" until the Palestinians get their house in order, dump Arafat, take on the terrorist organizations, and prove to Israel that they can present a genuine, trustworthy partner. This, needless to say, could take years, if not decades.

2004-03-19 00:00:00

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