Saturday, May 24, 2003

Say Yes to Bush

Isn’t this interesting? Bush is supposed to be diving head first into the swirling waters of the ME on a heroic mission for peace. So, supposedly, the pressure is on both sides, the Israeli and the Palestinians, to start performing. Still there is this ‘minor’ problem: Israel has still not endorsed the Road Map. If Bush is sincere (and believe it or not there are peace people in Israeli who entertain such a notion) then he simply has to tell Abu Mazen to take a breather while he works on Sharon. But no, Bush wants both sides to perform.

At the present, it seems that Bush has decided to take a detour around Sharon. Israeli radio has been blaring for the last day hours that Sharon is going to suggest to the government that Israel accept, not the RM, but the clauses of the RM. Now, any normal and fair broker would ask, at this point: what the hell is Sharon trying to do? Does he or does he not accept the RM? But instead of insisting on a clear and unequivocal answer, we hear U.S. sources explain that Sharon’s statement expresses important progress on the issue.

At the same time, the United States announces that it recognizes the vital importance in Israel’s reservations regarding the RM and that these will be addressed, at an appropriate stage. Bush negotiates with Sharon behind the back of the Palestinians and in total disregard for his partners in the quartet. Bush is coddling Sharon, just as he did when Sharon refused his request to retreat from Palestinian centers at the beginning of the last Palestinian Intifada. Even after Sharon had made a joke out of Bush’s request to pull back, Bush called him ‘a man of peace.’

Even so, hope does spring eternal within the human breast. Let us wait and see. If…after Eitam and Lieberman do indeed leave the government and Sharon really takes down 20-30 occupied illegal settlements, things might get interesting. However, we have seen enough of this play to know that almost any outcome is more likely than real, genuine, progress towards peace. As we say…I really hope that I am wrong.