April 15, 2004
The New York Times

Sharon Coup: U.S. Go-Ahead

by James Bennet

JERUSALEM, April 14 -- By throwing his support on Wednesday behind an Israeli plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, President Bush provided diplomatic assurances that represented a victory for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Mr. Sharon wanted three commitments: backing for the Gaza withdrawal, American recognition that Israel would hold on to parts of the West Bank, and an American rejection of the right of millions of Palestinian refugees from the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 and their descendants to return to their lands in what is now Israel. He got them all by promising to trade something Israelis overwhelmingly do not want any more: the Gaza settlements and a handful of settlements in the West Bank. And he got them without having to negotiate with the Palestinians.

Palestinian officials knew that Israel strongly opposed yielding the whole West Bank or accepting the "right of return," and they had explored compromises in the past. But they relied on both demands as formidable negotiating levers. Mr. Bush has now moved to pluck both from their hands.

"Imagine if Palestinians said, 'O.K., we give California to Canada,'" said Michael Tarazi, a legal adviser for the Palestine Liberation Organization. "Americans should stop wondering why they have so little credibility in the Middle East."

For the first time in American diplomacy in the Middle East, Mr. Bush announced that major Jewish settlements on the West Bank had achieved the status they aimed for: rooted "facts on the ground," . . .

For Israel, the risk is that the Palestinians will now reject as imposed on them any peace plan along the lines Mr. Bush laid out, . . .


"Sharon's Herzliyah Speech ," December 18, 2003

Wafa Amr, "Furious Palestinians Reject Bush Pledges to Israel," Reuters, April 14, 2004

Judy Dempsey and Heba Saleh, "EU warns US-Israel plan will hit peace hopes," Financial Times, April 15, 2004

Tim Reid, "Leaders attack new twist in the Israel road map," The Times, April 16, 2004

Robert Fisk, "Sharon's 'Courageous' Plan: Bush Legitimizes Terrorism," The Independent, April 16, 2004

"Hamas chief killed in air strike," BBC News, April 17, 2004

Eric Margolis, "Bush makes peace with Sharon,", April 19, 2004

"Letter to President Bush from Former U.S. Diplomats," April 30, 2004

Suzanne Goldenberg, "Former diplomats attack Bush: White House accused of sacrificing credibility with Arab world in US protest that mirrors assault on Blair," The Guardian, May 4, 2004

[When referring to Palestinian conditions, what we find is that reports of casualties, house demolitions, and dispossession in these media outlets pertain to specific cases and not to general patterns. Incidentally, the opposite is true when there is an incident of Palestinian violence--Paul de Rooij, "The Scale of the Carnage: Palestinian Misery in Perspective," CounterPunch, June 3, 2004]

James Brooks, "How Israel "Disperses" Demonstrations: Chemical Warfare on the West Bank?," CounterPunch, July 5, 2004

Conal Urquhart, "US deal 'wrecks Middle East peace'," Guardian, August 23, 2004

["The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process," . . . it is no secret that Ariel Sharon dreams of forcing all the Palestinians to Jordan,--Georgia Anne Geyer, "SHARON ADVISER REVEALS ISRAEL'S TRUE PLAN FOR PALESTINIANS," UPI, October 12, 2004]

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