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The Israeli governmentís decision to remove Yassir Arafat, backed later by the US veto in the UN Security Council, must deeply concern the international community.
Whereto is Ariel Sharon leading Israelis and Palestinians?
To understand this, one should observe Sharonís actions and its implications ever since the Likud came in power. For instance, one should bear in mind that the Hizballa was formed as a direct result of the occupation of Lebanon by Israel in June 1982. It did not exist before.
Sharon led Israel into Lebanon by fabricating lies, which were then transmitted to Prime Minister Begin and his government. Eighteen years after the Kahan Investigative Committee stipulated that Sharon could no longer serve as Defense Minister due to his responsibility for the Sabra and Shatila massacre, he was elected to Prime Minister. Eighteen years is also the time it took the IDF to narrowly escape the Lebanese quagmire, after hundreds of needless casualties. A large, celebrated and well-equipped army seemed to be overtaken by the Hizballa, a small zealous organization that has managed to force IDF out of Lebanon.
The strategic failure to which Sharon has led Israel in Lebanon is now repeating itself vis-ŗ-vis the Palestinians, only on a far more dangerous scale, jeopardizing Israelís future.
In the Palestinian arena as well, Sharonís and Likud governmentsí policies have enhanced the position of the radical Islamic organizations.
The Hamas and Islamic Jihad did not exist prior to the Likudís ascent to power in 1977. The explicit policy of allowing and encouraging the activity of Islamic organizations (initially perceived as having a strictly communal and social nature) stemmed from the conception that Arafat and his national secular organizations, the Fatah and the PLO, must be weakened.
Sharon also established a body of Palestinian collaborators with the Israeli occupation, called The Village Societies and headed by Mustafa Dodin, and armed them for the purpose of confronting PLO activists.
The strategy of establishing a Palestinian collaborators organization has failed, of course, but the onset of the first Intifada was in fact the result of the success of Sharonís two other moves: the removal of Arafat from Lebanon to Tunisia, and the rise of the Hamas. In light of Arafatís diminished hold and the strengthening of Hamas and Jihad, the national forces, i.e. the secular bodies led by Fatah and the PLO, launched the Intifada. Sharon also has his share in the El-Aksa Intifada, having incited the rivalry between the Islamic groups and Arafatís secular supporters by visiting the Temple Mount. That visit raised the issue of secular Palestiniansí loyalty to Jerusalem and the sacred sites, so in order to prevent the Hamas from benefiting politically, PLO members have gone to the streets to protest Sharonís visit.
And what has Sharon been doing ever since he was elected?
He is still misleading the Israeli public (and the US) in the pattern perfected in Lebanon.
He is working to dismantle the secular Palestinian Authority and neutralize the secular civic bodies supporting Arafat, primarily Fatah activists.
His war on the Hamas is nothing but a war against Fatah and the pragmatic groups who in 1993 dared to enter a negotiation process with Israeli pragmatists to reach a historic compromise.
The campaign against Arafat and the pragmatic forces entails encouraging the Hamas and turning it into the dominant body among the Palestinians. I wish to emphasize here: This is not an inadvertent mistake by Sharon; it is the conception, over which we shall weep for generations to come.
Sharon envisages only an all-out war against the Palestinians and their total submission. The moderate position of secular Palestinian circles thus creates a problem for him, because it exposes his extremist positions. That is why he must cunningly eliminate them politically and reject a cease fire (Hudna). According to Abu Mazen, the Hudna was designed to counter Sharonís war strategy, his argument being that the Palestinians must stop terror and unilaterally embrace the Hudna in order to show the whole world that the real refusenik of peace is Ariel Sharon. That is why Abu Mazenís regime had to be eliminated, but not in a direct manner. Sharon accomplished this first by refraining from the release of prisoners and dismantling settlements and blockades. When that did not help, he began to serially liquidate Hamas activists and leaders. This was all done in order to topple Abu Mazenís government, supposedly through Arafatís fault.
This must be clear: the exterminations were not meant to hurt Hamas but Abu Mazen, Arafat and the pragmatist elements in the Palestinian Authority and PLO. The exterminations only enhance the power of Hamas, and the astute Sharon knows this very well. He understands that Hamas is a much more convenient rival to launch an all-out war against than Abu Mazen, Abu Ala or Arafat.
The purported removal of Arafat, either by deportation or by extermination, as demanded by the Minister of Defense and the IDF, will be the kiss of death for any future political process, not just the Road Map. The reason is simple: There wonít be any pragmatic Palestinian leader or organization left with the political authority required to conduct negotiations and discuss a compromise.
Only Sharon and Hamas will be left to keep on dancing the Israeli-Palestinian Tango Mortale.
Previous articles by Lev Grinberg :
The Arrogance of Occupation, Decemver 14, 2001
Israel's State Terrorism, March 30, 2002
The Busharon Global War, July 8, 2002
Lessons from Israel: A war without Legitimacy, February 15, 2003
Still the Time of the Yankees? March 18, 2003
The Sharonology Illusion, June 4, 2003 http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/GRI306A.html
Lev Grinberg is a Political sociologist at Ben Gurion University. e-mail: [email protected] © Copyright Lev Grinberg l2003 For fair use only/ pour usage ťquitable seulement .