Hijacking the disengagement from Sharon
The Prime Minister's Office sent up a thick smokescreen to conceal honest words voiced by attorney Dov Weisglass on the disengagement plan's true intentions. These revelations contain lessons for all parties involved.
The Prime Minister's Office sent up a thick smokescreen to conceal honest words voiced by attorney Dov Weisglass in an interview with Ari Shavit in Haaretz Magazine (October 8). Why the lawyer turned in his client is a good question, but what is more interesting are the lessons that each of the parties will certainly learn from the revelations.
The lessons for the Palestinians are clear: The Sharon government, with or without the disengagement plan, has no intention of conducting negotiations with them on substantive issues; Sharon's support for the road map peace plan is nothing more than lip service; Israel will continue to establish facts on the ground. There is no chance of achieving political change except by the use of power and violence, as happened in the Gaza Strip. There is a risk of an increase in Hezbollah influence in the territories, but there is no alternative.
The lessons for the Egyptians from Weisglass' words are clear as well: Since the violence will continue, Cairo should not allow Egyptian representatives to operate in the Gaza Strip. Such activity will endanger them directly, and is liable to get the Egyptians involved in clashes with Palestinians as well as with Israelis; continued cooperation with Israel must be conditional on Israeli concessions in the West Bank. For that purpose, there must be an increase in international pressure on Israel.
The lessons for the Israeli public from the Sharon-Weisglass political program should also be clear: The occupation of the Palestinian people will continue, along with the terror and the violence; the war will definitely continue even during the implementation of the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip; the possibility that Israel will evacuate the illegal outposts (or according to another definition, the unapproved outposts) is slight. Not only are the settlers opposed to the evacuation; the government is evading it. Israel Defense Forces officers see the sad reality and would be happy if the army is not dragged into it.
The United States is preoccupied with presidential elections, and mired in complicated fighting in Iraq, but it is not ignoring Weisglass' confession. Anyone in Washington with eyes in his head has probably concluded: Israel may have no Palestinian partner for negotiations as long as Arafat is the principal leader, but it turns out that Sharon's concept of a "unilateral" withdrawal was designed to prevent any real progress in the political arena; the prime minister's support for the road map, which includes negotiations between the sides, a clear timetable and even an international conference, is not genuine; there is almost no chance that Sharon will fulfill his promises to President George W. Bush, as they were expressed in the letter Weisglass wrote in his name on April 14 of this year.
Sharon's disengagement plan deserves support at present, but eventually it is liable to add fuel to the fire of the conflict, and even to endanger Jordan. It is reasonable to assume that the next president of the United States will ask himself whether support for the Weisglass-Sharon plan is the way to guarantee Israel's welfare.
The international community, including the Quartet (the United States, Russia, the European Union and the UN, which are supposed to oversee the implementation of the road map), has probably drawn its own conclusions. After the clarifications made by Weisglass concerning the Sharon disengagement plan, it is clear that Israel must be presented with tougher conditions in exchange for assistance for the Sharon plan. In order for the Gaza Strip not to turn into a time bomb, the disengagement plan has to be "hijacked" from Sharon. Blind support for it means support for the Sharon-Weisglass plan to freeze all negotiations. We must work against the "unilateral" aspect of the Sharon plan, by involving the Palestinians in its implementation; pushing the sides into negotiations in various practical areas; and conditioning the aid from the World Bank and the EU countries on Israeli agreement to combine international, Egyptian and Palestinian activity.
The clarifications provided by Weisglass in his interview reinforce the claim that "third parties," including observers, must take an active role in the Gaza Strip. At first it seemed as though we could manage there without them, but the present disengagement formula is liable to lead the Gaza Strip to chaos, heavy shooting and an indirect occupation.