Photo: AP
What does the future hold? PM Sharon
Photo: AP
Eitan Haber

Get out your flak jackets

Settlers beware, Sharon will continue to rumble forward

I'd like to point out a promise Ariel Sharon made to Yedioth Ahronoth journalist Shimon Shiffer last week: "I will take a huge step towards peace (in the new Jewish year)," he said.


A huge step? If I were a settler leader, I would cringe. Ladies and Gentlemen of Judea and Samaria, get your extra-large flak jackets ready.


While it is true that Sharon has also promised there would be no more unilateral pullouts, and said he would wait for the Palestinians to make the next move, he also once said "the fate of (former Gaza Strip settlement) Netzarim will be the same as that of Tel Aviv." So look at Netzarim today, and look at Tel Aviv. So Sharon said. So what?


And here we find the first and last rule with Ariel Sharon, with no exceptions: Sharon will do, first and foremost, what is good for Ariel Sharon (and his family,) and only then will consider what might or might not be good for the State of Israel, its security or its economy.


After Gaza, Sharon is rumbling forward, and when he rumbles - he has no God, not even leading up to Yom Kippur.


Even if we don't like it, we must understand him: For 50 years he was ostracized like a leper, rejected by everyone. He was the most hated figure in the United States, Britain, and France, and he was never invited to the office of any prime minister, minister, president or king.


Just about his whole life, and especially after the Lebanon War and Sabra and Shatilla, he sought rehabilitation with the Israeli and international public and political establishment.


There are not enough words in the dictionary to accurately describe just how irrelevant Sharon really was.


Then, the Americans took on Sharon as a project. Even before he said anything about a withdrawal, evil occupation, or disengagement, the White House, the halls of government, the whole country was opened to him.


President Bush embraced him, and London, Paris, Berlin, and even the Himalayas got the message. When America speaks, the rest of the world falls in line.


Bush's ranch and Condoleezza's kisses turned Sharon into an international darling. Overnight, Sharon the pariah was swept away.


Sharon understood he must supply the goods, that the economy couldn't bring economic salvation and that the IDF couldn't defeat terror or bring about a political solution, and that the guy in the White House is a cowboy he couldn't con.


This is one reason, perhaps the main one, that the disengagement plan was born. Since then, and especially since it was carried out, Sharon has been king of the world, a virtual messiah.


But, as noted above, Sharon thinks first and foremost about himself. His current preoccupation is about the history books: How can he go down as the leader that brought about a final peace agreement with the Palestinians.


To that end, he'll do anything: In the past he offered to join forces with left-wingers Yossi Sarid and Amos Keinan, more recently was unilateral disengagement.


The Likud wants to stay in place? No worries. He'll be the one to move.


And oh, how he enjoys this: Just 20 years ago they called him "murderer"; now Egyptian President Mubarak, Jordan’s King Abdullah and Pakistan's President Musharraf can't praise him enough.


Who else? How about French President Jacques Chirac. What? The French? Those anti-Semites? Who would've believed it?


Now, Sharon is squinting his eyes, crinkling his brow, and thinking: He views his recent victory in the Likud Central Committee as a temporary stay in order to weaken challenger Benjamin Netanyahu.


Now, his next order of business is changing the manner in which the Likud chooses its Knesset slate.


He knows that if he is not successful, he will face 20 Uzi Landaus in the next Knesset, and he will be stuck.


If he fails to bring about these changes, he'll ditch the Likud, form another party that will mostly take votes away from the Labor Party, and will in effect be very similar to Labor.


Then, immediately after elections, apparently in several months time, he will continue, and how, in order to be written in the history books right next to David Ben-Gurion, perhaps even ahead of him.


Just think: "Ariel Sharon, creator of Israel's permanent borders." He knows what we all know: He must continue the diplomatic process. If he stops it, America, Europe and all his supporters will disappear again, and he will fall.


He can't allow himself to stop the snowball, even if he wanted to, which he doesn't.


So remember those words: "A huge step towards peace." We'll hear them again. There is more to come.


פרסום ראשון: 10.09.05, 19:45
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