August 24, 2005


Ariel Sharon's Statesmanship (NY Times, 8/24/05)

This page has never been shy about criticizing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. But this week the last Jewish settlers left Gaza, completing Israel's withdrawal from the desert it took control of 38 years ago. And yesterday, Israeli soldiers completed the evacuation of four much smaller settlements among the hundreds on the West Bank. This is the first time Israel has abandoned communities in lands the Palestinians claim for their future state, so it is incumbent upon us - and all of Mr. Sharon's many critics - to reflect on this extraordinary accomplishment.

This recognition is a helpful step, but should be followed by an apology to Mr. Sharon and George Bush for the several years of criticism the Timesmen have aimed at them for not negotiating their way to this point and instead imposing it unilaterally, a strategy that they now admit has worked brilliantly. Instead, they add the following:
Real peace talks are unlikely before those elections are settled, but such talks are needed to build on the Gaza withdrawal, which we hope is a sign of readiness to negotiate rather than a final gesture. In a region where there have been too many dark days, this flicker of sunshine deserves to be nurtured.

In the reality-based community negotiations are an end in themselves. In the reality-changing community--led by President Bush and Prime Minister Sharon--the end is a state for the Palestinians and a more secure Israel. The Times will still be calling for more negotiations after the latter has been realized.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 24, 2005 6:45 AM
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