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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

February 01, 2003

Sharon/Bush Peace Plan

Its a go

Speech by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the Herzliya Conference on December 4, 2002.
On June 24th this year, President Bush presented his plan for a true solution to our conflict with the Palestinians. The peace plan outlined in the President's speech is a reasonable, pragmatic and practicable one, which offers a real opportunity to achieve an agreement. We have accepted in principle the President's plan and the sequence presented therein. Our agreements with the Palestinians are based on the lessons the Americans learned from the Clinton-Barak plan, and my experience as one who has, for many years, participated in the security and political campaign in the Palestinian arena.

After concerted efforts, the U.S. Administration has understood and agreed that the only way to achieve a true peace agreement with the Palestinians is progress in phases, with the first phase being a complete cessation of terror. President Bush's speech is a fatal blow to Arafat's policy of terrorism and serves as proof of the failure of his attempt to achieve political gains by means of violence and terrorism. Only after a cessation of terror - and this is already agreed by most world leaders - will the commencement of peace negotiations between the parties be possible.

The American plan defines the parties' progress according to phases. The transition from one phase to the next will not be on the basis of a pre-determined timetable - which would have resulted in a build-up of heavy pressure on Israel towards the end of one phase and approaching the next phase. Rather, progress is determined on the basis of performance - only once a specific phase has been implemented, will progress into the next phase be possible.

On the basis of lessons learned from past agreements, it is clear to all that Israel can no longer be expected to make political concessions until there is proven calm and Palestinian governmental reforms.

In this context, it is important to remember that political concessions which will be made in the future - as those made in the past - are irreversible.

Even the current security reality, with the IDF operating freely inside Palestinian cities, arises from security needs and has not changed the political situation of two years ago. Israel will not re-control territories from which it withdrew as a result of political agreements. Therefore, the achievement of true and genuine coexistence must be a pre-condition to any discussion on political arrangements.
Read this speech in its entirety. It sets out the path to peace agreed upon by Sharon and Bush. Forget about the Quartet. Sharon has dismissed it as "nothing". Forget about the Road Map. Sharon said he doesn't take it "seriously". Forget about Arafat. Once the Iraq war gets going so will Arafat with Israel's help. Forget about Powell and the State Department They aren't calling the shots.

Why am I so sure?

Sharon would never have said he sees "eye to eye" with the Americans if he didn't. Sharon would never have come out in favour of a state had he not had Bush's assurance that this plan would be followed. Take note, that although a State is a given depending on performance, the final borders aren't, nor is there anything on the right of return. Thus the Palestinians must change their government and leaders, decommision their weapons and stop incitement before the question of permanent borders comes up.

Look how many times he refers to agreements with the US or his acceptance of the American Plan.

Sharon also said that political concession are "irreversible" and Israel "will not re-control territories from which it withdrew" as a result of political concessions. As a result, Sharon has agreed that the provisional state would be in area A only which is about 42% of the land. Sharon would never have made such a concession without first being in agreement with the Americans on the plan. I also think that is why Netanyahu did not make the creation of a Palestinian State the issue. I am sure Netanyahu has been told the whole picture.

I used to think that the US had committed itself to both the Arab countries and to the EU to do more for the Palestinians. But I no longer do. Look at the lack of support from all these Arab countries. Look at the opposition of France and Germany and Russia. The US owes them nothing. If anything the actions of these groups have made it all the clearer that trying to win them over is fruitless and a bad idea. So look for more unilateralism. Prosecuting the Iraq war will be simpler and so will solving the Palestinian problem be simpler. Too many crooks spoil the broth.

There is no way that after taking a lot of trouble to defeat one terrorist state, Iraq, is America going to create another. Mark my words.