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The only plan

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    Last update - 09:14 31/08/2005 The only plan http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/619156.html By Haaretz Editorial Things have never been as clear and as
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 1, 2005
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      Last update - 09:14 31/08/2005

      The only plan
      By Haaretz Editorial

      Things have never been as clear and as focused as they are today. Perhaps for
      the first time in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there is
      agreement among the Americans, Europeans and Israelis over the way forward in
      ending the conflict in this generation and not in some faraway future.

      The willingness of the Palestinians and the Israelis to accept the compromises
      outlined in the road map, Egypt's involvement in the attempt to stabilize the
      rule of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and prevent terror, and
      the fact that it is Ariel Sharon, the creator of the settlement project, who
      is making the first significant step in dissolving it - all of these create an
      atmosphere of coordinated movement in the right direction on both the regional
      and international levels.

      All of the significant players on the ground accept the rules of the game as
      well as the concessions they entail, with the exception of the rejectionist
      organizations on the Palestinian side and the extreme right wing on the
      Israeli side. Apart from these minorities, there is no one left who believes
      on the one hand that all the Israeli settlements will remain, and on the other
      that they will all be dismantled. No one believes that the Palestinian demand
      to resettle the 1948 refugees within Israel's sovereign borders is reasonable,
      or that a Palestinian state will not be created. There is also an
      international consensus against the use of terror as a means to an end,
      however legitimate that end is.

      All of these critical understandings could melt away in an instant due to
      political stupidity and shortsighted personal conflicts, however. The call for
      early elections is not based on principles, and it is hard to view it as a
      welcome war against corruption. Early elections are nothing but an effort by
      political hacks to take revenge on the prime minister for not taking into
      consideration their anachronistic position, preferring instead to make
      decisions based on the good of the state and thus putting his own political
      future in danger.

      The state may be forced to undergo another round of elections, and perhaps
      another round of bloodletting as well, before the solution that is already
      known to all is implemented. It seems as if every time Israel approaches an
      end to the conflict, the extreme right manages to shoot it down. Despite the
      marginal representation of the extremist camp among the public, despite the
      polls showing that it has actually shrunk since the disengagement, it still
      has the requisite suicidal fervor to bring the house crashing down on its
      inhabitants. Now it also has Benjamin Netanyahu.

      The incumbent prime minister has a few months left to make progress in the
      diplomatic arena. He currently enjoys unprecedented Israeli and international
      support for his actions. Sharon did not lose his Knesset majority, but he lost
      his support from his party long ago. As long as a sitting prime minister has a
      parliamentary majority, he can continue to advance the road map. If he does
      nothing, he will become superfluous.

      If Sharon can take advantage of his upcoming trip to the United States to
      shape additional understandings with regard to settlement blocs on the West
      Bank; if he accepts Environment Minister Shalom Simhon's offer to give
      settlers in isolated West Bank settlements - who want to be evacuated as a
      community - a compensation package that would make it unnecessary to evacuate
      them in the future, he can prove that he still has something to offer and that
      Israel under his leadership continues to accept responsibility for determining
      its future and its borders.
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