Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Ariel Sharon: "Bulldozer" or Gravedigger?

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Ariel Sharon: "Bulldozer" or Gravedigger?

Article excerpt

Ariel Sharon: "Bulldozer" or Gravedigger?

By Shahid Bolsen

Shahid Bolsen is a free-lance writer and director of, an Islamic news and information Web site.

Their enmity among themselves is very great.

You would think they were united, but their hearts are divided

--Surat-Al-Hashr, Ayah 14

In considering what impact the election of Ariel Sharon as prime minister of Israel will have on the situation in occupied Palestine, it is important to remember that Zionist designs have developed very little over the last 50 years, and are not likely to undergo any substantive alteration now.

A quote from former Defense Minister Ephiram Sneh early in the al-Aqsa intifada candidly spelled out Israel's approach. Through the use of force and closures, the government would "shape the reality" without negotiation into "what we would like to achieve through agreement." That is, Israel would impose its vision of apartheid on the Palestinian territories rather than implement it through the compliance of the willing but slow-moving PA.

The "peace plan" offered by Ehud Barak was identical to Ariel Sharon's "peace plan" of 1981: approximately 40 percent of the West Bank under Palestinian administration, cripplingly divided by Jewish settlements and by-pass roads, which would remain intact.

It has been learned that Barak offered Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat considerably more than this at Camp David, but included a condition that Arafat declare the remaining Palestinian grievances null and void, to declare the conflict over. Arafat's rejection of this condition, arguably the only legitimately patriotic decision he ever made throughout the entire Oslo peace process, was portrayed as a rejection of Barak's generosity, and a sign that the Palestinians did not want "peace."

Given the long historical context of the Israeli agenda, it is a quickly reached conclusion that Barak offered 90 percent of the West Bank and a shared Jerusalem precisely because he was attaching a condition that he knew would cause the offer to be rejected. This rejection allowed him the freedom to implement the Sharon plan through violence, without facing meaningful international criticism.

Thus, it is clear that the only plan that has ever been offered by the Israelis, for at least the last 30 years, remains the plan today.

We can only partially conclude that the Israeli people decided that Ariel Sharon would be more capable of implementing this apartheid policy than Ehud Barak, not because there is any question that he will be more effective, he certainly will be, but because we cannot responsibly conclude that this was the reason for his election.

Little needs to be said about what Sharon will do. Back in late November authorities from the IDF predicted that their operations against the Palestinians would continue until at least the middle of 2001. This was predicted after Ehud Barak saw the dissolution of his coalition government and had been courting Sharon to form a unity government.

In other words, the accuracy of this prediction did not depend upon who would sit in the prime minister's chair, since by the time the prediction was made, control of the government appeared to be up for grabs. The operations are part of the implementation of a long-held and long-term plan independent of individual political personalities. Most everyone is in agreement that Sharon will continue the violence, the closures, the economic strangulation, land confiscation, and so on, of his predecessor; who was, after all, enforcing elements of Sharon's own plan. With comparisons already being made to Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle, it is not inconceivable that before his tenure as prime minister ends, Sharon will be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Headline: War Criminal Redeemed by Historic Peace Deal.

More useful to examine, however, are the other reasons Sharon was elected, or more precisely, why Barak was not reelected, because they expose the deep fissures in Israel, which continue to erode its viability. …

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