Sharon's End Game

The old expression goes, "Give 'em enough rope, and they'll hang themselves." It is easy to see that the transfer of Gaza to the PA is one major step toward a Palestinian state.

David A. Miller

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Many political pundits have tried to decode the reasons for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Disengagement Plan. Some say it's a hidden financial agenda, with casino money as the motivation. Some say it's to divert attention from his alleged criminal activities. Some say it's to divert attention from his son Omri's alleged criminal activities. There are even those who think he's had a complete political reversal, and is now doing the bidding for the political Left. Maybe it's a combination of all of these reasons. Hard to say just yet.

Well, I am here to add yet another theory to the mix. Bear with me. It'll come.

Ever since the Oslo Accords, Israel has been forced into a reactionary position when it comes to the Palestinians. To the easily appeased world (at least from the Palestinian side), Yasser Arafat could do no wrong, and the "legitimate" Palestinian Authority was the darling of the world stage. Israel was the bully, and needed to make serious territorial concessions to give the PA the land it needs to have a viable state. All this sounded wonderful to everyone but Israel.

Then, three things occurred to change the mix. First, the whole world watched as Arafat walked away from the table for the last time, with former Prime Minister Ehud Barak offering him the best deal he ever would have. Then, the "Second Intifada" brought suicide bombings to the forefront and severely damaged the shiny new veneer of the PA. Even Arafat's Arab allies were disgusted, seeing a deal that would finally settle the major issues once again fall by the wayside. Then, the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, exposed the Palestinians as sympathizers with the likes of Osama Bin-Laden and Saddam Hussein.

The people of America clearly saw the Palestinians celebrating the attacks by burning US flags, firing their weapons wildly in the air and waving pictures of Bin-Laden. It was at this point in time that Sharon began to put his agenda into the mix. When US President George W. Bush initially and very publicly told Sharon that Arafat was his partner for peace, it seemed clear that Israel would be getting the short end of the diplomatic stick once again. But once 9/11 occurred, and Sharon was able to pin the Karin A weapons smuggling ship incident squarely on Arafat's shoulders, Bush had to reverse himself, thus eliminating Arafat from the game. Room for one at the Mukata, no waiting.

Now, this is where facts get murky and speculation runs wild. It was about this point in time that the plan to disengage from Gaza and northern Samaria began to take shape. Was it solely Sharon's plan? Did Bush and Sharon cut a deal? Most likely it was the latter. Many feel that Bush promised to back Israel on the remainder of the Judea and Samaria communities in exchange for giving up Jewish Gaza. Perhaps.

However, one must look a few moves ahead in this old chess game to truly have a chance to guess correctly. Arafat's death, as it turns out, was not much of a factor, at least in the short term. All the high hopes of Mahmoud Abbas have evaporated into a Hamas-driven reality. US envoy General William Ward has suddenly backed off his earlier assessment of a new PA that was able to get its security apparatus under control, and disarm Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Suddenly, Hamas is winning at the polls, and flexing its muscle in new and frightening ways. Abbas has yet to get any meaningful control over them or over Islamic Jihad.

Now we get to the possible end game of this theory. The old expression goes, "Give 'em enough rope, and they'll hang themselves." It is easy to see that the transfer of Gaza to the PA is one major step toward a Palestinian state. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been making lots of noise lately about Israel having to make even more territorial concessions. You can look at a map and figure it out, or read the "Road Map" - it's all there in black and white: a land bridge between Gaza and the West Bank. Now, we're talking about through communities inside the 1967 Green Line. That should be interesting. If you think it was hard expelling Jews in Gaza and northern Samaria, try this.

But I digress. Back to the hanging rope. You see, when Palestinian terrorists launch Kassam rockets into S'derot or other parts of Israel, it's called terrorism. But what will it be called when that same missile is launched from a newly minted Palestinian State? War, my friend. War.

You do the math. Sharon isn't known as the Bulldozer for nothing. The moniker came long before the expulsion of the Gaza and northern Samaria communities. So, there it is, out in the open for all to contemplate.

Is Sharon setting the Palestinians up for all out war? A winner takes all, no-holds-barred battle to the finish? I say yes. It's entirely possible. And it's a war that Israel would win easily, at least on the ground. However, as usual, the world politics side of this possibility is not in Israel's favor. But since when did that ever stop Sharon? Stay tuned.