April 16, 2004


The Sharon Plan of Disengagement (WILLIAM SAFIRE, 4/16/04, NY Times)

America's historic, unequivocal support of what the world knows must be part of a two-state solution puts pressure for peaceful negotiation where it belongs: on Palestinians, who must take control of their destiny away from fanatics sworn to destroy Israel. As Iraqis are also learning, free nationhood comes to those with the courage to control violent extremists.

Bush prevailed on Sharon to ease the disruption of Palestinian lives along the the security fence, which I think will encompass the Ariel salient, and to delay a Jordan Valley barrier. Sharon will take all 7,500 Israelis out of Gaza by the end of next year, and the settlers' movement is infuriated.

But having promised "painful compromises" — code for withdrawals — before his recent elections, Arik expects to remain in office through a Likud Party vote and possible coalition defection. "I'm not boasting" (he used the Russian word for boasting), "but I am not suspected of compromising our security." If the far right parties desert him, he'll bring in Labor, headed by his old rival Shimon Peres. A threatened indictment? "A terrible libel."

He speaks highly of Colin Powell and almost reverently about Bush: "Something in his soul committed him to act with great courage against world terror. Though under constant pressure, the man has not changed his mind."

Mr. Sharon yielded to the reality of the two-state solution, but his foes proved incapable of doing the same, President Bush Calls for New Palestinian Leadership (The Rose Garden, 6/24/02)
My vision is two states, living side by side in peace and security. There is simply no way to achieve that peace until all parties fight terror. Yet, at this critical moment, if all parties will break with the past and set out on a new path, we can overcome the darkness with the light of hope. Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership, so that a Palestinian state can be born. [...]

I can understand the deep anger and anguish of the Israeli people. You've lived too long with fear and funerals, having to avoid markets and public transportation, and forced to put armed guards in kindergarten classrooms. The Palestinian Authority has rejected your offer at hand, and trafficked with terrorists. You have a right to a normal life; you have a right to security; and I deeply believe that you need a reformed, responsible Palestinian partner to achieve that security.

I can understand the deep anger and despair of the Palestinian people. For decades you've been treated as pawns in the Middle East conflict. Your interests have been held hostage to a comprehensive peace agreement that never seems to come, as your lives get worse year by year. You deserve democracy and the rule of law. You deserve an open society and a thriving economy. You deserve a life of hope for your children. An end to occupation and a peaceful democratic Palestinian state may seem distant, but America and our partners throughout the world stand ready to help, help you make them possible as soon as possible.

If liberty can blossom in the rocky soil of the West Bank and Gaza, it will inspire millions of men and women around the globe who are equally weary of poverty and oppression, equally entitled to the benefits of democratic government.

I have a hope for the people of Muslim countries. Your commitments to morality, and learning, and tolerance led to great historical achievements. And those values are alive in the Islamic world today. You have a rich culture, and you share the aspirations of men and women in every culture. Prosperity and freedom and dignity are not just American hopes, or Western hopes. They are universal, human hopes. And even in the violence and turmoil of the Middle East, America believes those hopes have the power to transform lives and nations.

This moment is both an opportunity and a test for all parties in the Middle East: an opportunity to lay the foundations for future peace; a test to show who is serious about peace and who is not. The choice here is stark and simple. The Bible says, "I have set before you life and death; therefore, choose life." The time has arrived for everyone in this conflict to choose peace, and hope, and life.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 16, 2004 3:25 PM
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