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A new game is quickly gaining popularity in Israel: Sharonology. In the past we had expert Sharonologists, who could tell us when Sharon was lying, joking, just bluffing or undergoing a radical change. Nowadays, the political discussion revolves around Sharon's intentions. Sharonology has replaced a concrete discussion of issues, especially in the left (the right simply hopes he's bluffing the Gentiles). Sharonology has reached new heights once Sharon has blurted out the word
"occupation". The left was ecstatic: "He has adopted our views"; the Attorney General quickly interfered and corrected Sharon, saying that these were "territories under controversy". But Sharon was not even talking about the "territories", but about three and a half million Palestinians under occupation. To remove any doubts, he specified the locations from which he was ready to withdraw: Ramallah, Jenin, Nablus. Hebron was not on his list. The distinction between human beings and the land upon which they live is not Sharon's, but Menachem Begin's brainchild, along with his 1978 Autonomy Plan. Sharon is merely refining the wording: instead of calling
it autonomy, he speaks of a state. The road map is tailored to Sharon's conception: The Palestinian state is temporary and borderless, while the issue of dismantling the settlements is deferred until after the final agreement between the parties regarding borders. The extreme right wing opposition is correct in saying that the road map is "worse than Oslo", and for the same reasons. It is bad because it does not lead to a viable Palestinian state, but to a short-lived Palestinian authority that would
eventually blow up under the pressure of the masses and the opposition. All the explosives remain intact: the settlements in the heart of Palestinian occupied population, IDF blockades and the economic dependency. The predictable failure does not stem from Sharon's good or bad intentions. It stems from the conception accepted by the right and most of the "left", according to which Barak has "offered everything" at Camp David, despite the fact that he sought to keep most of the settlements, which practically dissect the Palestinian state into at least four separate cantons, preventing a viable state with territorial continuity.
The Road Map resembles Oslo also in the reaction of the peace supporters: waxing lyrical about words, rituals and symbols while ignoring the concrete reality in the territories: the doubling of settler population during 1993-2000, the intensification of the blockade
and closure, and the deterioration of the Palestinians' economic situation. As in the days of the Oslo Accords, the Road Map establishes peace only in the imagination of Israeli and Palestinian peace supporters wishing to delude themselves into believing that words would suffice to change the hard reality of prolonged occupation. Anyone wishing to change the reality of the occupation must begin with moves that would radically change the circumstances in the territories and trigger a dynamics of changing atmosphere and political stances:
1. Dismantling the settlements: 50,000 housing units must be built within two-three years, and reparation legislation must be promptly enacted to encourage the settlers to leave voluntarily.
2. Terminating IDF's contact with the Palestinian population, by withdrawal and the introduction of international peace forces to assist the Palestinian police in taking over the territory, enforce law and order and collect arms from civilians.
These two moves could build genuine trust between the two peace-craving peoples, and would cause some of the religious-nationalist fanatics on both sides to rethink their course in order to participate in a future framework of democratic politics. These moves cannot be carried out as long as the borders remain disputed. The only acceptable baseline is the pre-1967 border. If the border is not determined up front, if the settlements are allowed to continue their "natural" expansion, if the army continues to erect roadblocks and control every aspect of Palestinian daily life, the fate of the Road Map will be the same as Oslo's, or worse.
The myth of the "Oslo Accords as a peace process" is the reason for the sharp right turn and the crisis of the left in Israeli society. Another myth, of the "Road Map as a peace process", must not be fabricated again. Instead, an incisive political discussion must be held, and Sharonology should be discarded. The tendency to address the leader's hidden intentions instead of discussing his actual policy only feeds the illusion that the occupation would somehow dissolve itself, powered up by words and rituals, without a earnest political struggle. It won't happen. Just ask the Hebron settlers.
The writer is a political sociologist from Ben-Gurion University Copyright L Grinberg 2003. For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .