May 12, 2003
It's more than symbolic that on the day after details of Bush's "road map for Middle East peace" was released, the Israeli army carried out a violent military operation in the Gaza strip, assassinating fifteen Palestinians, among whom was a two-year-old child.
The "road map" is supposed to define the stages that will lead up to the creation of a Palestinian state in 2005. But the publication of this umpteenth pretended peace plan, of which the general outlines were known for months, brings nothing new – only a vague formulation concerning "the possible creation of an independent (Palestinian) state with provisional borders, in 2003." In other words, the "road map" lays out no precise route – only a "possible" and "provisional" one.
Sharon knows this very well. He continues to insist that he won't be held to a schedule and a deadline, and the U.S. doesn't reproach him.
The territory envisaged for an eventual Palestinian state is equivalent to about half of the West Bank and two-thirds of the Gaza strip. Within the West Bank, split-up zones would have to be linked up by an entire system of bridges and tunnels. And there would be no territorial continuity between Gaza and the West Bank.
The "road map" doesn't even envisage a more viable Palestinian state, since so many of the formulations it contains are vague and restricted, being limited to saying Israel will – someday – retreat from "Palestinian zones it had occupied since September 2000" and that "all Israeli settlements constructed since March 2001 will eventually be dismantled."
The "road map" doesn't lay out anything very different from the vague concessions that Sharon said he was ready to make in 2002. But as negligible as these concessions were, they created a storm in Israel on the part of the far right, in particular among the religious. Beny Elon, Minister of Tourism and member of the National Religious Party, went to the U.S. to protest "the road map and the danger that the creation of a Palestinian state on the West Bank would constitute for Israel." Elon, as many other ministers of the government, has declared himself in favor of deporting Palestinians from the West Bank into the remainder of Jordan.
These internal tensions in the Israeli government could wind up leading to a reorganization of the government and an eventual collaboration with the Labor Party. Mitzna, the Labor spokesman who has said he's hostile to such a possibility, has just resigned. The main remaining Labor Party leaders, in particular Shimon Peres, are rather favorable to it. This would mean the return to the situation that Sharon wanted on the morrow of the last elections: the creation, or more exactly the maintenance, of a government of national unity between the Likud and the Labor Party.
If this comes about, the situation won't be better for the Palestinians. They would then face the two principal parties, those of the governmental left and right, which for decades, one after the other, participated in their oppression. Once again, they'd work together to do it.