I originally sent this out a couple of days ago and by now hopefully some of you have seen it. Apologies for the cross postings. Keren Lewin
----- Original Message -----
From: Yehudith Harel
Sent: Monday, July 01, 2002 8:07 PM
Subject: Fw: Ze'ev Schiff: The emergence of the Sharon plan 28.6.??2
For those who haven't yet understood what it is all about....and where is Sharon heading to, dragging with him the labour Party and all of us - Please read very carefully Haaretz Strategic analyst. Zeev Schiff is far from being a "Self Hating Jew ...a Radical Leftist or anti Zionist"...who is immediately suspected of spreading
disinformation and deliberate pro-Palestinian propaganda...
The emergence of the Sharon plan
By: Ze'ev Schiff
Who says Prime Minister Ariel Sharon doesn't have a plan on the Palestinian front? The beef against him from the moment he was elected prime minister some 18 months ago has been that he has none. Each time he returned home from a visit to Washington, the media reported the Americans' contention that Sharon did not have an answer to the question of what his plan was for a solution to the Palestinian question once he completed his operational moves.
Slowly but surely, however, this perception is turning out not to be the true picture. Yes, it's true - Sharon did not have a strategy for ending the military conflict; but he does have a political plan of his own that he is holding close to his chest. And as time passes, the plan is gradually becoming apparent. Now, in connection with the current military operation, Determined Path, its details have become plainer than ever.
Sharon has drawn several important lessons from his failures in the past, especially those in the Lebanon War of 1982. He is refraining from making overly-bombastic statements and is quick to retract pronouncements if such prove necessary. Contrary to his attitude in the past, he does not publicize everything he has on his mind. If, in the past, he was defiant of Washington, which opposed his actions, now, he is making a great effort to coordinate positions with the administration and not to upset President George W. Bush.
Another significant lesson the prime minister has learned is the need to forge the widest possible consensus in Israel - hence his intensive effort to preserve the government coalition with the Labor Party. Once in a while, he reveals one of his hardline positions, but if necessary, is ready to execute a tactical retreat until a better opportunity comes along.
The following are the main points of the Sharon plan:
l In the current state of affairs, Sharon does not want to conduct negotiations with the Palestinians on a permanent settlement to the conflict. It is possible that he doesn't believe that such a settlement is feasible. The explanation, or the excuse, is that Israel will not talk to anyone who is waging a war of terrorism against it. Secondary issues can be discussed, but not the permanent settlement.
l The establishment of a Palestinian state - even a political entity in a small area - should be postponed for as long as possible.
l In Sharon's mind, the proper management of the crisis and not its urgent resolution is of utmost importance.
l No settlements are to be dismantled, not even the most isolated of them. If Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer wants to remove a few "illegal" outposts, he can amuse himself by doing so. In any event, the settlers set up some of these outposts for the purpose of removing them, so that they will be able to maintain other, more important sites of this kind.
l Instead of shortening military lines, the army should seize Palestinian areas for an extended period - including land in Area A, which comes under full Palestinian control in the wake of the Oslo Accords. Parallel to deferring negotiations because of continuing acts of terrorism, Palestinian territory should be seized until the terrorism is brought to an end. This was the message contained in the prime minister's announcement at the outset of Operation Determined Path.
l A key element in Sharon's plan was revealed during the cabinet's discussion of the security fence. Sharon is not talking about a fence, but about security zones, on the basis of which his concept of how the territory should be divided is implicit. He plans to hold onto two security zones - in the east, the entire Jordan Rift Valley; and in the west, the entire "seam area," along a line that, in sections runs far to the east of the 1967 Green Line. By means of the so-called "Jerusalem envelope," the capital will be largely isolated from the Palestinians in the West Bank. In between, in the heart of the territory, will be the settlements. The Gaza Strip, without the Katif Bloc of Israeli settlements, will exist on its own, with only a loose connection, if any at all, to the West Bank.
l Concurrently, the Palestinians must be forced into a position in which they will consent to a long-term interim agreement.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat played into Sharon's hands with his misguided moves and the bloodshed to which he has been an accomplice. Bush's speech this week, the content of which did not really come as a surprise to Sharon, as Israeli intelligence forecast it accurately, will provide additional incentive for Sharon to realize his plan.
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