Making Peace With Ourselves

An all-inclusive movement that calls itself a "center party" can at most help us to make peace with ourselves.

A vision of the end of days: The lion lies down with the lamb. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, the champion of targeted assassinations, and MK Shimon Peres, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, dwell together with Tzachi Hanegbi of the monument at Yamit and with MK Haim Ramon from the days of the octet led by Yossi Beilin. And Prime Minister Ariel (Arik) Sharon is their shepherd.

What was it Hanegbi said? "I am closer to Ramon than to [Likud rebel MK] Uzi Landau." One wonders whether Ramon now feels closer to Mofaz, whom until the day before yesterday he defined as a voracious devourer of Arabs, than to Labor Party chairman MK Amir Peretz. Until when will a Kadima membership card transform a Likudnik overnight into a centrist, and a Greater Land of Israel proponent into a peace activist? The election slogan on the Kadima posters is already promising "Sharon - a strong leader for peace."

Here and there one can spot cars bearing Likud stickers: "I am securely confident in peace with Sharon." They are left over from the last elections, before the disengagement and the great rupture it caused between Sharon and the right. Indeed, compared to MKs Effi Eitam (Renewed National Religious Zionism) and Arieh Eldad (National Union), Sharon and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni could be considered centrists. Of this one can say: Tell it to the Marines.

A political definition is not measured by the distance from other people. A Zionist person of the left has been and will remain someone who, in return for peace and security arrangements, agrees to the return to the pre-1967 borders, with some adjustments, to split Jerusalem and to solve the refugee problem. A person of the right has been and will be someone who will not relinquish most of the territories, the Jordan Valley or Jerusalem even at the price of giving up the chances for peace. All the rest - the talk of the road map (of course after wiping out all the terror infrastructures), and the (denied) rumors of another unilateral withdrawal - is really a political maneuver being used for domestic purposes and a trick to repel pressure from abroad.

Even if a Kadima government does evacuate isolated settlements in the West Bank and complete the separation fence, what do these have to do with peace? According to Even Shoshan's Hebrew dictionary, shalom (peace) means "tranquillity, rest, quiet, a situation without war." What tranquillity was afforded by the evacuation of four Jewish settlements from the northern West Bank to the victims of the terror attack in Netanya? What quiet will be guaranteed by a wall in the heart of Jerusalem to the inhabitants of the Katamon neighborhood in the capital? What war/intifada will be prevented thanks to the "new order" that a Kadima government will impose on the Palestinians?

The fact that people are flocking to the 2005 model Sharon is indicative of an increasing longing for disengagement from the Palestinians, from the settlers and from the territories. His new disciples are imagining the bulldozers from Gush Katif on the ruins of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. As they see it, the time has come for Israel to have an eastern border, and it is impossible to wait until there is a Palestinian partner worthy of the name. True, there is no Palestinian partner for a peace agreement that will offer less than what president Bill Clinton offered them.

But Sharon from Kadima, exactly like Sharon from the Likud, has never been a partner for the outline drawn up in 2000, which included withdrawal from 94 to 96 percent of the territories and the division of Jerusalem. His position did not change even after the poor excuse for a leader with bristles on his face gave way to a leader who - morning, noon and night - declares his opposition to violence.

It can be said that in comparison to the old Sharon, the new Sharon is a man of the center. So what? One can wager that Kadima will dismantle a few outposts and will maybe even cut into the settlements. However, it would be seemly for a party that has only just now joined the political market not to sell this merchandise under the brand name of "peace." No country will recognize a border that is determined by one side while annexing territories that are at the heart of the conflict. Even the United States will not relocate its embassy to the capital of Israel until an agreement on the holy places is achieved.

Only a peace agreement, of the sort that is achieved in negotiations between enemies who want to put an end to war, will strike the Palestinian problem out of the hands of enemies who are exploiting it to perpetuate the state of war. Only a peace agreement will grant Israel moral and international legitimacy to take action against a neighbor who breaks it.

An all-inclusive movement that calls itself a "center party" can at most help us to make peace with ourselves.