Sharon May Be Able To Deliver Peace Where Barak Could Not When it comes to Israeli leadership many believe, as I did, that the Labor Party is more apt to deliver a peace agreement with the Palestinians then its counterpart, the Likud Party. I have come to the conclusion that this presupposition is flawed.
It is a fact that there has not been a majority government in Israel, one that can single handedly pass a peace agreement in the Israeli Knesset.
Israeli governments have often times relied on minority parties for votes to form coalition governments, thus giving these small parties enormous power to hold hostage not only the peace process with the Palestinians but the entire Middle East. And when the Labor and Likud parties joined together to form governments by sharing power a few times, it was more of a transitional period in Israel to keep the status quo rather than progress on the peace front.
As a liberal party, Labor cannot deliver a peace treaty because of its lack of a majority and because it cannot influence a needed percentage of the hard line conservatives or right wing in Israel to accept its peace initiatives. Its peace efforts have failed. On the other hand, Likud, which is perceived as not overly zealous in wanting a genuine peace with its Palestinian neighbors, can muster votes from the left wing of Israeli voters and convince its core supporters in the right wing to deliver a peace treaty.
After all, the liberal left in Israel is for peace and will support a Likud peace initiative, while the right wing conservatives and ultra-orthodox voters of Israel have not and could not support a Labor peace plan as being too forth given. Lest we forget, it was the Likud Party under Prime Minister Menachem Begin that delivered a peace treaty with Egypt and dismantled the settlements in the Sinai.
With the rhetoric emitting from Ariel Sharon, the Likud Party nominee for Prime Minister of Israel in the February 6, 2001 elections, one would think, however, that a Sharon, and thus a Likud Party, victory would be disastrous for the Palestinians. While the “Butcher of Beirut,” as Sharon is known in Palestinian circles, can talk of giving the Palestinians less than what Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has offered at Camp David or less than the President Bill Clinton’s initiative outline for peace in his final days in office, the offers once made or accepted by Israel cannot be withdrawn. How can the Palestinians accept anything less than what was previously offered?
Sharon’s campaign rhetoric notwithstanding, should he win the office of Prime Minister, he will come to the realization that once an offer is made, it cannot be withdrawn. He will come to this conclusion if not on his own then by the sheer responsibility of his office or the desire to leave a more profound legacy (other then his role in the Sabra and Shatilla Massacres) or the pressures imposed from within and outside of Israel. He will have to live with offers on the table and will have to convince his right wing supporters that these offers are the only way to achieve peace for Israel, although he will try to extract concessions from the Palestinians. Otherwise, without a majority government by the Labor Party, Israel cannot be ready for peace.
(Mr. Fadi Zanayed, is an attorney practicing in Chicago, Illinois; a writer and poet (author of “Cycles of Frustrations” a collection of his poems about Palestine. He is currently working on a poetic fictional novel of a Palestinian born in Palestine in 1948 under an olive tree as his mother dies. The story is all in rhyming poetry which will tell the story of the plight of the Palestinians.)