Sharon fakes peace talk for elections, Bush support

TEL AVIV – In the wake of his landslide victory for the Likud party chair and candidacy for premier in the January 28 general elections, the veteran hard-line warlord and incumbent PM Ariel Sharon enters the eve-of-election campaign with his latest shenanigans. He not only is presenting himself as the nice old grandfather and pastoral sheep-loving big landowner, but also as one who seems to be prepared for peace with the Palestinians and their aspirations for statehood. The latter turn-around eve-of-election ploy is not free of Sharon’s desire to please U.S. President Bush, who needs some kind of quiet on the Israeli-Palestinian front for his own warfare against Iraq and the Middle East.

However, looking at the facts behind the eve-of-election ploys, the creeping 'transfer', the old Zionist synonym for cleansing Greater Israel west of the River Jordan from its indigenous Arab Palestinian population, has continued unabated under Sharon’s reign.

During the 21 months of Sharon and Likud rule, with Labor Party complicity, more than 10,000 acres of West Bank land, owned and tilled by Palestinians, have been robbed by Israel. The excuses used to justify this robbery are partly for 'security reasons,' partly for new, or enlarged, Jewish settlements, or for new strategic highways for the colonialist settlers and the occupation forces, or for a new 'Defense Fence Wall.' All this instead of an effective peace policy.

More than half a million Palestinian-owned fruit and olive trees, of the latter some over a century old, have been already uprooted. By this, the occupation rule is robbing Palestinians of their means of existence. Thousands of Palestinians’ houses have been destroyed, condemning more than 30,000 people to homelessness.

The inhuman use of collective punishment of millions of people, such as blowing up houses owned and resided in by next-of-kin of Palestinians, charged by Israeli security services as having perpetrated acts of terror against the occupation forces, colonialist settlers, or suicide attacks upon Israeli civilians, as well as extra-juridical executions of leading members of Palestinian groups, have become almost daily events.

In order to get elected again, and it looks promising for Sharon according to recent opinion polls, he said he would be prepared to adopt the so-called peace initiative of U.S., United Nations, European Union and Russia 'Quartet,' which includes the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Quite astonishing, the Israeli UN envoy Yehuda Lansky said Israel would favorably consider the 'two states for two peoples' solution to the conflict.

Regretfully, there are still far too many Israelis who still believe in Sharon’s shenanigans. Still too many believe that military occupation power could bring peace, security and economic recovery to the Israeli people. The simple truth is this iron-fist policy of Sharon and his ilk has utterly failed, and has no future, but rather will bring Israel to the brink of disaster.

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org