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June 2002

Palestininan Statehood Fading Away

By Karen Nakamura

Once again Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has thrown mud in the face of the world community and walked away clean. He finally acknowledged he really has no intention of getting troops and settlers out of the West Bank.

Caught between a rock and a hard place, Sharon stated publicly that maybe, just maybe, at the very end of the peace progress, (and not in an area as large as the West Bank and probably surrounded by a containment wall), Palestinians might, that's might, be allowed some sort of a state. Sharon did say Palestinians had a right to exist but inferred not as a political entity. His generosity was under-whelming.

Perhaps, Sharon was being conciliatory, fulfilling, in his mind anyway, requests by world leaders to play nice and answer Arafat's declaration that Israel has a right to exist by countering that Palestinians have the same right, sorta, someday, maybe.

However, Sharon's political rival Benjamin Netanyahu, head of Sharon's Likud Party, caught the Prime Minister in a power squeeze between accepting a Palestine state, which he certainly never has before, and a Likud statement declaring there can never be a Palestinian state. Are Sharon and Netanyahu, the Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum of Israeli politics, who both fervently believe it's their God-given right to create a Greater Israel, actually enemies? Or do they work as a team of sheep dogs ever guiding the Israeli flock to the right?

What's amazing is the mainstream US news blackout surrounding the maneuver. Fortunately for the Prime Minister, the statement was made within hours of the breaking of the Bush administration's "who-knew-what-when" scandal and thus, a crucial statement concerning peace in the Middle East went largely unnoticed in the American press.

What does the Prime Minister mean with this statement? Not over my dead body? Is he talking a hundred years from now? After all the Palestinians have been killed or run off and their very essence leveled by bulldozers and real estate developers? Or will we see it within a reasonable six months to a year and with pre-67 borders? A Palestinian state is a goal Sharon and his cohorts have blocked for years while acting as though they are sincerely moving towards that end. Both the Likud and Sharon's statements are vitally important. They show the utter duplicity in Israel's negotiations.

Ariel Sharon, in contrast to Rabin, has done his best to kill the Oslo Accords stating his intent publicly and often. He's proud of it. Truthfully, however, Israel has for years used every trick in the trade to stall any progress on an honestly brokered peace-treaty. That's why Arafat misses Yezhak Rabin so much. He considers Rabin the last Prime Minister to deal with Palestinians honestly. It was his effort to reach a peace accord with land for peace that brought about Rabin's assassination by the same right-wing Israeli element that is currently in office.

What has been the Bush Administration's reaction to Sharon's hedging on a Palestinian state? Other than a statement of disappointment with Likud, little has been said. Within hours, however, of Sharon's outrageous statement, and before the media ran more than a trailer on the TV screen, the 9/11 "who-knew-what-when" scandal was broken by the White House itself. Just a coincidence? Perhaps, but the Bush Administration has never responded adequately to these two peace-killing actions by one side in the middle of intense negotiations.

Nor was the Bush Administration able to pin Sharon down on his last visit to Washington. Once again Sharon was saved at the last moment, that time by a suspicious suicide bombing. The same scenario played itself out when Sharon refused Arafat passage to the Arab Conference in Lebanon. Instead, he tried to get an invite for himself. Just as he was to get his comeuppance there was another suicide bombing. Coincidental, perhaps.

Actually, there were those in the peace movement who were thrilled when Likud voted to never support a Palestinian state. Not that the peace activists agreed, quite the contrary. They were thrilled that Americans might finally realize what they and the rest of the world has known all along. Israel refuses to get out of Palestine and will resist to the end any pressure to give it up. The common diversionary tactic will be to cloud judgment away from Israeli actions by raising some fault in Yasser Arafat. Sharon or Netanyahu will keep shooting at Arafat's feet to make him dance to their tune, threatening him and his people with annihilation unless they cry uncle and surrender the land.

 

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