The average Israeli dove feels yet more despondent when he or she reviews the results of the Defensive Wall operation. The dove's forecasts were on target, and his or her expectations concerning the Prime Minister's judgment have proved correct - and yet it is difficult for the peace camp to pin all the blame for what has happened on Ariel Sharon.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's behavior allows Sharon to benefit from the benefit of the doubt. It was anticipated that in the best case, the military operation would end as a kind of draw. It was expected that terror would resume (and be launched from cities in which Israel Defense Forces troops continue to be deployed). It was clear that heavy international pressure would bear down on Israel, and that its relations with the U.S. would suffer a jolt.
It was known that the terror infrastructure, which the IDF has purported to uproot, can be found in the heart of each Palestinian. It was understood that according Arafat a central role in the operation's objectives would serve his purposes, rather than harming it. It was predicted that the scope of the operation and the siege on Arafat would stir up ferment in the Arab world. It was written on the wall that the IDF's entry into PA controlled territory would ignite the northern border.
All such developments were foreseen, and began to swing into motion the moment the operation was implemented. The emerging result of the operation would appear to warrant criticism of the prime minister who gave the order to carry it out. A leader who brings such a sequence of tribulation to his state as a result of a failure to anticipate the future has no right to lead.
Yet, as things stand now, doves are unable to call resolutely for Sharon's resignation, since Arafat's positions give Israel's Prime Minister an alibi. The average dove assumes that in a choice between territories and peace the Prime Minister wants the former - and thus the dove is obliged to oppose Sharon's policies and seek his replacement. The dove suspects that Sharon's policy management throughout the past year has been designed to perpetuate Israeli control on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The average dove has for years been aware of Sharon's line of thought. Although he is a cunning man, Sharon's approach to political matters (and perhaps life in general) is simplistic, force-oriented, and to a great extent, impulsive. Given this mix of character traits, it is very difficult to lead a state in Israel's situation successfully.
Sharon has proved that apart from deploying military force, he is unskilled when it comes to delving into the arsenal of other measures which he has at his disposal (such instruments include, for instance, diplomacy, and media or public relations).
The problem is that Arafat continually furnishes Sharon pretexts for relying on his chosen method - the Palestinian leader's penchant for giving Sharon excuses befuddles even the most steadfast dove.
Sharon's demand for seven days of quiet prior to the implementation of the Tenet outline illustrates the point. Doves instinctively opposed the idea, since it appeared to mask a ploy designed to avoid the launching of a process that would lead to the implementation of the Mitchell program, which includes a clause calling for a freeze on settlement activity.
Events of the past two weeks have provided a vivid demonstration of the nature of negotiations conducted at a time of violence. There are mass terror attacks on one side, and a large scale military operation on the other. As expected, the escalating flames of armed conflict have come to dominate affairs, and extinguish any hopes of dialogue.
So the average dove has to ask himself - why did Arafat refuse to agree to the seven days of quiet demand, and thereby lose an opportunity to force Sharon to deal with the Mitchell Report, and suspend settlement construction?
The same dynamic is at play with regard to key questions about a final status accord. Israeli doves harbor doubts about the credibility of the account given by Ehud Barak and his aides concerning circumstances of the failed Camp David Summit. Yet when it comes to Yasser Arafat's position of the right of return, they have no doubt.
The Palestinian leader wants to settle in Israel at least all of the refugees who dwell in Lebanon (about 300,000 persons). The average dove, who is prepared to withdraw to the 1967 lines and dismantle all the settlements, cannot accept this demand.
Under these circumstances, Sharon's maneuvers appear to be an unavoidable military response to Palestinian violence (which is a wanton violation of the Oslo accord), even if they cloak an intention to perpetuate Israel's control in the territories. That is why the doves are going nuts.
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