A lot of chutzpah

Speaking broadly, Palestinians saw the speech of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon given at the Herzliya conference as one of the most dangerous Israeli plans to imperil the peace process and the Israeli and Palestinian peoples. This plan proposes to use the wall that Israel has built along the outlines of a 35-year-old settlement expansion project in order to determine by force the final arrangements for the Palestinian territories. In his speech, Sharon talked explicitly about consolidating illegal settlements, rather than removing them, with no regard for Israel’s obligation to stop building settlements according to the roadmap. While Sharon gave a verbal nod to the roadmap, he also reaffirmed his speech in Aqaba earlier this year, which includes the multiple Israeli reservations to the roadmap. In other words, Sharon is trying again to escape the roadmap plan backed by the United States and the international community.

One of the most ironic aspects of Sharon’s speech, and one that can only be explained as an attempt to boost public relations, is his justification of these threats of unilateral action by an alleged lack of roadmap implementation on the part of the Palestinian Authority. Quite the opposite, it was the Palestinian Authority that accepted the roadmap with no reservations, while Israel burdened its acceptance with 14 qualifications that turned the roadmap on its head. It was the Palestinian Authority that instituted a ceasefire and thus adhered to the clause that calls on Palestinians to stop all kinds of violence against Israelis wherever they may be, while Israel did nothing to fulfill its own obligation to stop violence against Palestinians everywhere, nor to fulfill even those obligations that have no security implications, such as halting settlement expansion in the occupied territories. The main Palestinian Authority obligation to the roadmap that remains unfulfilled is its adoption of a security role. This will only be possible once Israel ends its military reoccupation and allows the Palestinian side to rebuild its security forces crippled by the Israeli crackdown on the Palestinian security apparatuses.

As such, from a Palestinian perspective, it is simply chutzpah that allows Ariel Sharon to call this a "disengagement" plan, when in fact it will consolidate Israel’s occupation of Palestinians and disengage inside the occupied territories, not from the occupied territories as a whole. This is not about "disengagement", but rearranging things in a manner that suits the occupier and is definitely at the political and economic expense of the occupied.