Monday, May 23, 2005


Very interesting Haaretz article in which Ehud Barak speaks very frankly about Israel's colonization project in the occupied territories, Ariel Sharon's central role in it, and possible consequences of Israel finally doing the right thing:

"I think [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon deserves credit for the decision he made to act contrary to what he did his whole life. After all, the disengagement plan is actually Sharon's admission of his life's error. It is better to advance in the right direction than to sit on our bottoms and do nothing. But it has to be said honestly that the right-wingers are speaking the truth. Some of the forecasts of [Likud MK] Uzi Landau have come true. The Palestinians will interpret the act of disengagement as a victory. They will say that Sharon capitulated.

"After all, just three years ago he said that [the Gaza Strip settlements] Netzarim and Kfar Darom are like [Kibbutz] Negba and Tel Aviv. And what happened since then? Terrorism. Therefore, they will say, we have to go on using terrorism. We have to perpetrate terrorism in the West Bank and from the West Bank. The violence has to be renewed at a higher level. Because in the end, despite all his pronouncements, Sharon understands only the language of force. Sharon surrendered to terrorism."


"Take the original sin of the settlements. Have you ever asked yourself where they came from? At Camp David, [prime minister Menachem] Begin not only returned all of Sinai. He also recognized the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. The whole world understands that the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people include the right to self-determination. The right to self-determination means a state. Along came Begin and tried to undo the result of a document he himself had signed. That is why he sent [interior minister Yosef] Burg to mire the autonomy talks and sent Sharon to build `many Elon Morehs' [meaning many settlements].

"Sharon's plan was to scatter so many settlements at so many places in Judea and Samaria that a Palestinian state would never be able to be established. But the plan was an act of folly. Far from strengthening the large settlement blocs, which are truly essential, Sharon's isolated settlements weakened them. Those isolated settlements are a classic case of biting off more than one can chew. It's as I told you: There is no strategy. There is no true reading of the map. The tactics are amazing but they lead to a dead end."

If anyone expressed such sentiments in the U.S. press, they'd be roundly attacked as anti-Israel, and probably as an anti-Semite. Confoundingly, the Israeli press consistently features more balanced and honest coverage of the conflict than we ever get here in the States.

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