Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Broken Promised Land: The U.S. Can Be a Real Friend to Israel by Nixing Sharon's Separating "Peace."

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Broken Promised Land: The U.S. Can Be a Real Friend to Israel by Nixing Sharon's Separating "Peace."

Article excerpt

IT WAS A SHOCKING TURNABOUT OF 30 YEARS OF OFFICIAL policy in April when President Bush abruptly embraced Ariel Sharons "plan" for peace in the Middle East. The Israeli prime minister proposes to evacuate settlements in the Gaza Strip at the same time he reinforces other settlements on the West Bank. The plan also removes the right of return or compensation for Palestinian refugees from the Mideast negotiating table and represents a substantial sacrifice of the already tiny area cordoned off for a Palestinian state.

A president who argued that Iraq's alleged indifference to U.N. resolutions demanded the harshest of responses has essentially acquiesced to the "facts on the ground" strategy of various Likud leaders, a campaign of decades of defiance to U.N. resolutions on the status of the West Bank. This ultimate triumph of Sharonism comes during a period of unprecedented turmoil Sharon himself first stirred up by his defiant stroll to the Dome of the Rock in 2000. Now he proposes himself a realist and moderate seeking "compromise" by abandoning untenable colonial settlements in Gaza for a larger land grab behind the West Bank's great wall of denial.

It has been the longtime position of the United States that these settlements are a barrier to peace and that they must be removed before a viable Palestinian state and a lasting peace in the region can finally be established. But now the Bush administration basically argues that it's time for folks to grow up and recognize those facts on the ground--that these settlements are home to 200,000 Israelis who won't be moved and that Palestinians are engaging in a historical mass delusion if they believe they can ever return to the villages and community life they abandoned or were driven from in 1948 and 1967.

If they are delusional, the Palestinians are in good company with Bush and Sharon, who apparently believe that the capitulation they require from the Palestinians will somehow lead to peace. But perhaps these two are not quite that deluded, perhaps all they actually anticipate is the occasionally gore-splattered maintenance of the region's awful status quo.

If that's true, then there are two nonviable states to worry about here, for as surely as a cantonized and politically and economically degraded West Bank cannot mature into anything approaching statehood, with this proposal, Israel is consigning its own democratic experiment to the ash heap of history. …

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