Sharon Goes Public with Peace Plan
(An IsraelForum.com original)
Full Story at: http://www.israelforum.com/dynamix/page.pl?sn=123
Ariel Sharon's opponents have often accused him of having no political plan. Consequently the Prime Minister, they claim, is forcing a military solution where one does not exist, thereby fanning the flames of Palestinian hatred and terrorism. So when Sharon last week presented a detailed peace plan adopting President Bush's vision for the Mideast, fear spread like wildfire through the ranks of Israel's Arab enemies and Leftist opposition.
The plan originates with President Bushâ€™s vision for a new Middle East, which would ultimately include a Palestinian State that would coexist peacefully alongside Israel.
The first step, according to Bushâ€™s vision and Sharonâ€™s plan, is a total cessation of Palestinian terrorism. But what happens after this first step is where Sharonâ€™s plan and Bushâ€™s vision begin to diverge. The Bush plan, later echoed in the Quartetâ€™s â€œroadmap for peace,â€ proposes a strict time-table for moving to the next step. Sharon, however, disagrees and insists that progress to later steps be a function of each side fulfilling their obligations. In other words, if the Palestinian do not stop terrorism completely, then Israel would not be obligated to make further concessions, which include withdrawing IDF troops from the West Bank and freezing all settlement construction.
Other highlights from Sharonâ€™s peace plan include a fundamental change in the Palestinian government, including a shift to democracy that would preclude Yasser Arafat from holding real power. Instead, Arafat would be designated as a national figurehead, while practical control over Palestinian affairs would be entrusted to a Prime Minister.
As part of the Palestinian reform that would precede democratic elections, Sharon proposes that the various Palestinian militias that currently make up its police and paramilitary forces would be reorganized. At the moment, the Palestinian security forces are thoroughly infested by Hamas operatives and other terrorism troops, leading Sharon to conclude that a thorough cleanup is necessary.
At the same time, a special Palestinian Ministry of the Interior would be established to collect and remove all illegal weapons currently held by Palestinian citizens.
While Arafat and his warlords plundered the international aid intended to supply humanitarian relief to the Palestinian people, the newly reformed Palestinian government would be required to conduct its financial affairs openly and with full accountability.
Likewise, the Palestinians would no longer be permitted to use EU money to recruit, train and arm suicide bombers, as has been the Palestinian norm in the past few years. The use of EU foreign aid to pay for the murder of innocent Israelis is currently accepted by the EU, and so, the new peace framework would require a fundamental change for the terrorism-funding EU, as well.
The official Palestinian campaign of incitement must stop, under Sharonâ€™s plan for peace. He believes that the systematic indoctrination of Palestinian children through anti-Semitic and terrorism-supporting messaging is a basic problem that stands in the way of peaceful coexistence.
Once the Palestinian meet the conditions set forth in Sharonâ€™s proposal, Israel would then withdraw its troops from predominantly Palestinian areas, dismantle some settlements, initiate political and economic cooperation with the Palestinians, and recognize an independent Palestinian state that would be demilitarized.
As a veteran statesman, Sharon acknowledges that there are no quick military solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Therefore, he has come to believe that the only roadmap to peace is one which is gradual and dependent on reciprocity and fulfillment by both sides.
While he knows that he will face an uphill battle to free the peace process from the constraints of an automatic time-table, he is also well aware that progress in the Middle East can only be measured by deeds, not words, as has been proven by the failure of the Oslo agreements.
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What do you think? Is this the peace plan that will ultimately end the Arab-Israeli conflict?