Friday, June 28, 2002

Ze'ev Schiff writes today about the emergence of a "Sharon plan". Though of course It's not a plan-with-a-capital-P, but an approach to the current situation which, at the most basic level, includes the conviction that the current conflict must be managed rather than resolved.

Tactics for effectively managing the conflict include extended stays by the IDF in Area A and "security zones" - the latter being Sharon's conception of the much-discussed security fence. The "security zones" idea is that Israel will control a few zones that will help keep Islamikazes from entering Israel (there's no doubt the fear that these lines would be construed as a political border is what caused Peres to oppose the fence).

This seems extraordinarily sensible to me - much more sensible than all the other "plans" that get floated around that have little possibility of being implemented on the ground, and even less chance of actually working.

Schiff adds that Sharon has learned a lot over the years - he refrains from bombastic statements and speaking too bluntly, and appreciates the need to work with coalition partners and with the US. Sharon also thinks that the Palestinians could eventually be forced to consent to a long-term interim agreement.

Mark Heller in Jpost points out that there is still a gap between the US vision and Sharon's - the US is on record as supporting a Palestinian state in the medium-term.

All this is of course anathema to various persons including Shimon Peres, Knesset Member/Arafat advisor Ahmed Tibi, and all the op-ed writers in today's IHT. When they say that the Palestinians will remain intrasigent without a short-term "carrot" (like immediate statehood), I believe that they are in touch with Palestinian thinking - which is why negotiations are not possible now.

Some particularly annoying sophistry by Malley/Evans in the IHT - they believe that "incremental solutions have had their day". What they really mean is that having any expectations at all from the Palestinians will never work.

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