Monday, March 27, 2006

Once the heated campaign rhetoric fades, watch for the cautious Israeli-Palesitnian dance to continue.

The Daily Star - Opinion Articles - Ariel Sharon's unilateralism is likely to win the day: "For that matter - despite rhetoric soothing to President George W. Bush's ears - Israel has long given up on bilateral peacemaking as well, as evidenced by last year's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. Buffeted by Palestinian terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians, and frustrated by the Palestinians' refusal to obediently defer to Israel's deadly military might, Sharon and his heirs demarcated Israel's occupied West Bank boundary with a wall and embarked on a plan for Israel and the Palestinians to go their own ways.
One reason that Hamas chose to run, and one reason why it won, was Sharon's decision to replace negotiations with unilateral withdrawals, placing unilateralism not only at the center of Israeli politics but at the center of the international approaches to the conflict. Adding impetus to Hamas' successful campaign was America's effective disengagement from the negotiation of final-status issues in favor of Israeli unilateralism. For all of its rhetorical bluster, the Bush administration has been a pussycat in its handling of Israel. It has consistently backed away from positions that would potentially costly in U.S. domestic politics.
Although little mentioned in the press, many Palestinians have also become concerned by Israel's cutting off the Jordan Valley from Palestinians. This area accounts for as much as 30 percent of the West Bank's territory, far more than the chunks that Israel has appropriated by building its wall. Reportedly, a phalanx of checkpoints now limits Palestinian access to the valley. Hamas seems to have been regarded by voters as potentially much more vigilant in protecting Palestinian territory than Fatah."

No comments: