The only plan
- 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.