Thursday, December 18, 2003

Sharon Threatens Unilateral Action
This move seems to co-opt Netanyahu. In brief: "Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Thursday that Israel will take unilateral steps to establish a makeshift border, including relocating Jewish settlements, if Palestinians do not make moves toward peace within a few months."

I think this has the potential to be a good thing. Waiting for the palestinians to come around has not worked for 36 years. Furthermore, hoping that the Arabs will negotiate has allowed them to dictate the pace of events. They break talks off when they feel like it, and then ask for discussion whenever they want a reprieve. If Israel sets there own border, or takes other significant steps, it puts them in the drivers seat and the Arabs have to react. Given Israel's strength, they should have done this a long time ago.

It is obviously Arafat's strategy to try to outwait the Israelis. It is about the only option he has, given his lack of military or political strength. But as we wait for him, innocent people are murdered. Arafat's first choice has always been to do nothing. Witness how he walked out of the Camp David meetings without actually accepting or rejecting Barak's offer. This will deprive him of his waiting option. There will be consequences to obstruction, and consequences are the only thing that will get him moving.

On the other hand, if Sharon decides to unilaterally withdraw to the 1967 lines, pay the palestinians, allow them to move to Israel, divide Jerusalem, etc, this will turn out to be a horrible choice. Rather, a good choice, horribly implemented. However, I don't expect Sharon to retreat like that.

Unfortunately, I think even the US will not recognize this kind of move. It goes without saying that the EUropeasers and UN will condemn it. It will be an excuse for Arabs to keep attacking Israel, but then the cost of tea in China is an excuse for Arabs to attack Israel. At least Israel will have a fence and can respond with force. Plus, the headache of administrating the leftover territories will fall to Arafat. I really think this could work out well.

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