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What Bush doesn't understand

Dr. Ron Breiman- Tuesday 12th Apr 2005

The meetings of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas with U.S. President George W. Bush cannot lead to an improvement in the situation in the Middle East. As long as they are based on the concepts of the "Bush vision" and the "road map" or dividing the western part of the Land of Israel into two states, neither of which is durable, these meetings are going to be sterile, like many other plans that have risen and fallen during the past four decades.

Many articles have been published about the absence of logic in Sharon's present policy, which is not in accord with the purpose of the existence of the State of Israel - concentrating the Jewish people in the Land of Israel, rather than expelling Jews from their homes in their land - and with Bush's war against (Islamic) world terrorism, because they constitute "support for terror," in the words of the chief of staff and other Israeli security experts.

Convincing analyses have been written about the absurdity of establishing another terrorist state by turning the terrorist authority of Arafat and his successor Abu Mazen into a state. Quite a number of articles have discussed the ways in which Israel under Sharon has distanced itself from the accepted characteristics of a democratic regime, and the fact that there is no chance that the terrorist organizations, the PA and Hamas will adapt themselves to a democratic way of life.

Therefore, if Bush were to understand that building a vision on the shaky foundation of expelling Jews and encouraging terror does not agree with his positive desire for democratizing the world and overcoming terror, he himself would turn to different channels.

He wouldn't waste his time on unifying Abu Mazen's security services, which are nothing more than terrorists in uniform, but would demand their total removal from the western part of the Land of Israel; he wouldn't demand gestures from Sharon to establish the rule of Arafat's successor, in other words, a continuation of the approach of the Oslo Accords, which collapsed in a foreseeable manner, but would demand the total abolition of the PA; he wouldn't be preoccupied with one route or another of the "security fence," whose entire logic is acceptance of the existence of terror, instead of war against it; he wouldn't consider Israeli construction establishing facts on the ground that influence the final-status agreement at a time when Arab construction continues unimpeded, although its purpose also is to determine facts on that same ground just to influence the final-status agreement; he would see that in the small dimensions of the western part of the Land of Israel, his concern for Arab territorial contiguity means a lethal lopping off of Jewish territorial contiguity, and an existential threat to the only state the Jews have; he would understand that the attempt to bring about peace now is leading to "war now."

If Bush were to understand that there is no solution now, he would be assured his place in history if he would begin preparing the ground for a long-term solution, which is apparently the only possible solution: He would work to settle the Arab refugees who are crowded into the Gaza Strip (and whose problem will not be solved by Sharon's expulsion of their Jewish neighbors) into the area of the Sinai Peninsula, rather than allow Sharon to endanger the peace agreement with Egypt by canceling the demilitarization of the peninsula; he would strengthen peace with Egypt by means of a civilian barrier rather than close contact and friction between the armies; he would act to democratize Jordan and gradually transfer power there to the hands of the Palestinian majority as a step toward the "vision" of two durable states in the Land of Israel, living in peace alongside one another.

To sum up, if Bush were to understand, rather than being taken in by Sharon's charm or European pressure, he would not waste his second term on a problem that has no solution in the foreseeable future; he would exhibit the responsibility that the prime minister of Israel has lost, and stop Sharon on the eve of implementation of the act of madness that contradicts the values of Zionism, Judaism, democracy and the need for a global war against terror.

The writer is chair of Professors for a Strong Israel (PSI).

originally published in Haaretz



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