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9
Aaron LarsonPerson was signed in when posted
02-05-2004
12:47 PM ET (US)
That might be called the biggest mistake of Oslo. Oslo was negotiated in the absence of Arafat, but he was called in to sign and legitimize the deal - which in turn legitimized him. He was then "elected" against no real opposition, and was at the time deemed "indispensible" to the peace process.

I don't want to be unduly critical of international "democratization" projects (e.g., Cambodia), but they often seem to look like this - a nominal but "fair" election, followed by the equivalent of dictatorship, with or without subsequent elections.
8
mythago
02-05-2004
11:41 AM ET (US)
The problem is that it *should* be possible to recognize the Palestinian Authority without enthroning Arafat--who is corrupt, violent and indifferent to the rule of law. But Arafat is not going to let that happen.
7
Aaron LarsonPerson was signed in when posted
02-05-2004
07:45 AM ET (US)
Oh give me a break. Thomas Friedman complains,
[An "Islamic Republic of Palestine" is] a real possibility, given the Bush team's failure so far to create a political process that can forge, empower and legitimize a moderate center in Iraq or in Palestine — a center that can counter the rising power of Hamas and Hezbollah among Palestinians and that of the Shiite and Sunni clergy in Iraq.
So after literally cheerleading the destruction of Arafat and the Palestinian Authority - the secular leadership of the Palestinians - Bush is now blameworthy for applying tactics Friedman endorsed? When was Friedman calling for elections in the Occupied Territories - elections which polls suggest would have resulted in the affirmation of secular leadership? Oh, that's right - like Bush and Sharon, he opposed elections because they would have legitimized Arafat. And when has Friedman ever criticized Israel for its early treatment of Hamas (supporting and funding its leadership in the hope of weakening the secular PLO)? Now it's all Bush's fault?

I will credit him for acknowledging that Sharon's military tactics have strengthened groups like Hamas at the expense of secular Palestinian leadership, and (in the context of the prisoner swap with Hezbollah) for adopting (without acknowledgement) Moshe Arens' long-standing criticism of Israel's Palestinian policy, in that it often seems to ignore peaceful gestures while rewarding violence.

As for future borders, Friedman shares my perception of Sharon's goals in the West Bank: "[W]e may have a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. This is apparently part of a broader Sharon plan to unilaterally create an interim Palestinian state in about 50 percent of the West Bank and all of Gaza, and leave Israel with the rest."
6
Aaron LarsonPerson was signed in when posted
02-05-2004
07:27 AM ET (US)
For some reason, an allegory about King Solomon comes to mind.

Also, that comment about how it takes a Nixon, reputed to be "tough on communists", to effect rapprochement with China....

I hope you're right, although I'm not optimistic that Sharon intends a reasonable West Bank border or any true form of Palestinian sovereignty.
5
mythago
02-04-2004
06:12 PM ET (US)
He is still trying to convince the hard-liner's that he's their man.
4
Aaron LarsonPerson was signed in when posted
02-04-2004
05:44 PM ET (US)
If his opinion had changed, though, wouldn't he reroute his "security wall" back (more or less) to the Green Line, as originally proposed, rather than doubling or tripling its length, cost, and construction time by having it wind through the West Bank in what many regard as a de facto annexation of vast amounts of Palestinian land?
3
mythago
02-04-2004
04:38 PM ET (US)
It almost seems as though his opinion has changed--that he realizes he can't simply push all the Palestinians into the sea and be done with it. He's definitely losing the hard-liners from his coalition, but then, there really is no spoon long enough to deal with those people.
2
Aaron LarsonPerson was signed in when posted
02-04-2004
03:00 PM ET (US)
I think Sharon has always understood what peace would cost, which is why he has spent decades working against it. What he didn't understand was the cost of victory.

From his autobiography, "Warrior", speaking of the Gaza settlements he is now prepared to abandon:
Standing with the cabinet ministers on a high hill, I pointed out exactly what I thought was needed. If in the future we wanted in any way to control this area, I told them, we would need to establish a Jewish presence now. Otherwise we would have no motivation to be there during difficult times later on.
His prior expression on the subject:
No one will touch Judea and Samaria [the occupied West Bank]! Or Gaza either! (Judea and Samaria) belong to us. They have been ours for thousands of years, eternally.
What has changed, perhaps, is his notion that the settlement process would end up in a greater Israel, encompassing the occupied territories, as it instead appears to be driving Israel toward either the "one state solution" or a type of oppression which will do at least as much to undermine the notion of Israel as a Jewish state.

What I find perplexing about his expression is that it makes it almost too easy to demand a similar withdrawal from the West Bank. It also threatens the continued inclusion of "right-wing" and "settler" parties in his coalition.
1
mythago
02-04-2004
11:41 AM ET (US)
Is it just me, or does it seem like Sharon really does understand what peace will cost, much as he is reluctant to admit it?

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