A year into the Palestinian people’s intifada against the Israeli military attack, Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister, finds himself in a race with time both internally and internationally. He is therefore feeling bewildered and is resorting to various means of political terrorism in order to disable or delay an effective U.S. role in the Middle East.
What has increased his bewilderment, and has produced a situation where Sharon is unable to skillfully deal with developments, is the intertwining of international and Israeli developments and the direct effect one has on the other.
We are in no doubt concerning the importance of having the American administration understand this bewilderment and its consequences, not by submitting, backing off or surrendering to Israeli blackmail, but by taking advantage of this situation, intensifying its efforts in the Middle East and pushing towards implementing a final solution to establish peace and achieve security and stability in the Middle East.
The terrorist bombings in New York and Washington have rocked the world. Naturally the shock in the Arab and Islamic countries was equal to that felt by the Americans. The shock Sharon felt however, did not stem from the criminal killings and destruction generated by the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, but from Sharon’s failure to blame the Palestinians or link them to these terrorist operations.
On top of this, the tables were turned against him when the western media began to shyly link international terrorism with Israel’s organized terrorism against the Palestinian people. What worsened the situation for Sharon was the insistence of the Arabs and Moslems to put an end to the Israeli occupation of Arab land as an integral part of confronting terrorism around the world.
More than once Sharon publicly expressed his anger and resentment at western contacts (the U.S. and Europe) that were trying to build a coalition to fight terrorism internationally together with Arab and Islamic countries. Sharon said out right, in a manner threatening Washington that Israel refuses to pay the price for this international coalition ï¿½ as if Israel were a gentle dove suffering from terrorism itself. In reality, however, it was practicing organized terrorism against an unarmed people with no army.
Regardless of what anger and resentment Sharon expressed, he did realize that there were ideas about which intense deliberation was taking place between Washington, London, other European capitals and Moscow. These ideas were about the implementation of Security Council resolutions 242 and 338. This was announced more than once, by President Bush, Secretary of State Collin Powell, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Foreign Minister Straw.
Because Sharon understands this, he is trying hard to delay it tactically, hoping he could cancel it later when things settle down after the strikes on Afghanistan. He is very wrong in thinking this way.
Striking Afghanistan is only the first step in a lengthy war by which the U.S. aims to control events in the world under the banner of fighting terrorism. So the atmosphere will remain hot; Sharon does not realize this.
For the U.S. this battle is the mother of all battles; the strike against terrorism, its power centers and the regimes that protect and support it, is but one goal of the many goals that the U.S. plans to achieve while waging this war. Examples of these goals include controlling oil resources and establishing a strong foothold on the borders of China, Russia and Iran.
Sharon is bewildered and his confusion increases day by day. Because of this confusion, he is using all his tactics, ploys, lies and the traditional Jewish blackmail of the western world.
Connections with the internal Israeli front
With the resignation of Ministers Lieberman and Ze’evi (Israel Beitenu and National Unity parties), the deep struggle that was present within the ranks of the coalition government has risen to the surface of Israeli political waters. With the official and public upbraiding of the Chief of Staff General Mofaz, the coalition between the Israeli military institution and the Israeli right wing blocs has also surfaced.
This public outburst will reveal crimes committed by the Israeli army and by armed settlers against the Palestinians on more than one occasion and with undeclared support from Israeli officials. It will also show that Mofaz’s orders to his soldiers to attack are the main reason behind the non-implementation of the cease-fire.
Mofaz’s interests, and those of his coalition with the right wing blocs, revolve around preventing any political negotiations, any withdrawal from Palestinian territories and intensifying settlement activity. Mofaz issued a statement in which he announced his non-acceptance of the Israeli army’s withdrawal from the Hebron neighborhoods it had occupied two weeks ago.
Ze’evi and Lieberman’s resignations came from the same background, but the ministers clearly defined that the broader framework was their objection to Foreign Minster Peres’s meeting with President Arafat, and what resulted from that meeting regarding an agreement to move towards implementing the Mitchell recommendations and the Tenet accords.
Sharon publicly criticized the actions of the military institution and considered them to be dangerous and unprecedented. So did Binyamin Ben Eliezer who reproached Mofaz – his countdown for leaving his post as Chief of Staff has begun.
Mofaz is looking towards entering the political arena in coalition with right wing blocs affiliated with Likud and Labour in the government. This is why he dared, and dares still, to take positions he believes go along with the general Israeli mood and narrow Sharon’s chances of winning elections for Prime Minister again.
What is even more dangerous is that Sharon knows a lot about Mofaz’s contacts with a large number of Likud leaders who are against Sharon and are supportive of Binyamin Netanyahu. Coupled with this, the American and European pressures create serious misgivings for Sharon, and cause him more confusion.
Shimon Peres is undoubtedly continuing his intense contacts with the Americans and Europeans not only to complain about Arafat and ask them to exert pressure on him, but also to complain about Sharon and ask them to exert pressure on him too.
Sharon therefore found he had to agree to simple and superficial terms connected to the easing of oppressive and suppressive procedures that the Israeli occupation forces are carrying out, so he may keep the channels of Israeli pressure on the western countries open.
In this mode of behavior, Sharon is utilizing the tactic of gaining a lot for giving little on peripheral matters, to use this to greater effect later with regard to his demands concerning the core. The core is what he sent Zalman Shoval and Binyamin Netanyahu to the U.S. for. Sharon sent with his envoy to the United Nations a warning against the consequences of the American administration proposing opinions or even ideas regarding final settlement and final status in Palestine.
Sharon understood, directly or through his advisors that the leaking of news about an American initiative based on the ‘Land for Peace’ formula and the implementation of Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, are only American messages to absorb any reactions at an early time. These are at the same time messages to notify Sharon that the time has come, according to high American interests, to find a political settlement that will help spread security and stability in the Middle East and will ease antagonism felt by Arab and Islamic countries towards the United States because of its declared bias towards the Israeli occupation.
Therefore Sharon did not send his envoys with messages rejecting the idea, he instead tried to maneuver around the matter by asking the United States not to address the following in any initiative or political move:
First: The borders; that is, the borders of Israel or the borders of the Palestinian state and to leave this matter for negotiations. Of course everyone knows that Sharon does not want to return to negotiations, but this request clearly asks that the U.S. finally stops holding on to the ‘Land for Peace’ formula and to the implementation of Security Council resolutions 242 and 338.
This request, though innocent looking, aims at blasting the entire peace process, or at least blasting its foundations so that Sharon may impose new foundations instead of those accepted a decade ago in Madrid, and nearly four decades ago by the UN Security Council.
Second: The issue of Jerusalem and the Right of Return. This request is also a dangerous trap Sharon is setting up for the American administration.
Sharon is asking the American administration to facilitate the peace process. In the letter Zalman Shoval delivered he indicated that avoiding the thorny issues in the first stage will ease the progress of the peace process.
The core is Sharon’s position, which revolves around the complete refusal to discuss the issue of East Jerusalem and the insistence on Islamic-Jewish partnership in the Haram Al-Shareef. As for the implementation of resolution 194 related to the right of return of Palestinian refugees, Sharon has publicly and officially considered it to be the decision to destroy the Hebrew state.
In short, we say that Sharon is trying to preempt any American, European or Russian move to implement resolution 242 and the ‘Land for Peace’ formula. This is so he may deprive any international effort of content and abort any Arab effort made during this period to have the implementation of international legitimacy and resolutions and an end to the Israeli occupation, as part of ending the reasons for tension and a part of fighting terrorism.
Sharon now finds himself between the hammer and the anvil. He knows that the iron is hot and that pounding on it would mold it. He is practicing terrorism against the American administration to prevent the iron from being pounded and molded into a sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
Things are not, however, going the way Sharon wants them to. The talks President Arafat had with the British Prime Minister are extremely important. This was the first time that a European leader with close ties to Washington has addressed many details relating to the outcome of the negotiations at Camp David and Taba during Barak’s reign.
It is necessary for the Arabs to keep on pounding the hot iron so this opportunity does not turn into another Yalta. At the same time that Sharon is dispatching his advisors to Washington to incite against the Arabs and the Palestinians, Arab countries and the Arab League should send ministers, officials and businessmen to urge an end to the Israeli occupation because it is the main factor in ending extremism in the region.
If Sharon is now seeking to limit any western move and empty it of content, then the issue for us is that the United States, Europe and Russia commit to an honest and firm implementation of
their resolutions; that is, resolution 242 and the ‘Land for Peace’ formula.
There is no longer the opportunity to discuss how to implement the Tenet accords or the Mitchell recommendations. These must be implemented without discussion so that all powers interested in the security and stability of the Middle East, connected to world peace, security and stability, may end Israel’s organized state terrorism against the peoples of the region ï¿½ a terrorism, the brutality of which has been going on for 34 years.
Bassam Abu-Sharif is a special advisor to President Arafat.