Jan 16, 2006
Prime Minister Sharon was favored to win the March 28th election, but his massive stroke removed him from the political scene. Sharon had created the political party named Kadima (Forward) for these elections, based only on himself. This party, which currently leads in the polls, has pulled a number of politicians from the right who are close to Sharon as well as those from the Labor Party who are also close.
Sharon and his party are supposed to have gone from a right-wing to a centrist position. Since the Israeli government under Sharon evacuated the Gaza Strip, the news media says that Sharon now stands for peace. Bush also called Sharon “a man of courage and peace.”
This is not what the Palestinians are saying. They continue to suffer the violence of Sharon’s government and of their own government.
Sharon has attacked the Palestinians for more than half a century. In 1953, he led a special military unit that carried out deadly operations, such as dynamiting 40 homes in the village of Qibiya, which killed 69 Palestinians. During the 1970s, Sharon led violent attacks on the fedayin in the Gaza Strip. More than 100 people were killed. During the same period, he expelled thousands of Bedouins from the Rafah region, destroying their homes and capping their wells.
Then followed the years of Israeli colonization of the Palestinian territories by building settlements. Sharon’s zeal was so strong it earned him the nickname of “the emperor of the settlements.”
As Minister of Defense, Sharon both sought and then led the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. More than 15,000 civilians, both Lebanese and Palestinian, paid with their lives. Sharon was responsible for the September ‘82 slaughters at Sabra and Shatila, two Palestinian refugee camps. These murders were carried out by the Phalangists, the military arm of the extreme right in Lebanon, supported and protected by Israeli special QC forces, who oversaw the operation. At the time, even Philip Habib, President Reagan’s special envoy said, “Sharon is an assassin, driven by a hatred of the Palestinians. I gave Arafat guarantees that the Palestinians (who were in Beirut) would not be touched, but Sharon did not honor his agreements. A promise from this man is worth nothing.”
At the end of 2000, at the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, Sharon intentionally provoked the revolt that became the second Intifada. The following year, Sharon swept the legislative election by presenting himself as the answer to the terrorism he had provoked. A new war by Israel against the Palestinians began. Sharon promised that the war would last 100 days. But it is still not over.
In that war, the Israeli military murdered thousands of Palestinians. They also carried out the massacre in the town of Jenin. They used walls and fences to cut Arab neighborhoods apart. The most disgusting was the “Wall of Separation,” 25 feet tall, that cuts through the Palestinian West Bank. Day after day, Jewish settlements were expanded and new ones built as Israel absorbed Palestinian territory. Fields were destroyed or stolen in order to build roads exclusively for Israeli use.
The Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip should not create any illusions about Sharon’s intentions. Most of the Israeli population had called for the withdrawl for a long time, because the occupation of Gaza by the Israeli army was expensive and there were more soldiers there than settlers to protect. But no previous Israeli government had dared to proceed with this evacuation. And the so-called opposition Labor Party fully supported the evacuation, explaining that Sharon had finally carried out their policy!
Sharon stated clearly that the evacuation of Gaza was a minor concession. The idea of evacuating the West Bank will certainly not be considered. And when it comes to East Jerusalem, or the other areas with large settler implantations, Israeli settlers will be completely supported. Today in the West Bank, there are more than 250,000 settlers outside Jerusalem. Only 8,475 settlers were evacuated from the Gaza Strip and a few colonies in the area of Jenin. At the very same time, the number of settlers in the West Bank increased by 15,800. The Israeli Bureau of Statistics reported that new construction of housing in the West Bank was up in 2005, while construction of housing in Israel fell.
So does the evacuation of Gaza prove Sharon’s policies are flexible? Perhaps, but certainly not in order to make concessions that would allow the creation of a viable Palestinian state.
The realities are so horrible that there should be no illusions about Sharon. It is certainly not the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip that represents his policies, past and present.
Thanks to political maneuvers by the right and the left, a right-winger with blood on his hands is presented as one with a policy for the future of the peoples of the Middle East, for the Israelis as the well as the Palestinians. A true mystification!