Joined: 18 Sep 2003
|Posted: Thu Jan 20, 2005 2:58 am Post subject: An eye for an eye
|Haaretz. January 17, 2005
An eye for an eye
By Yoel Marcus
The prime minister's decision to give Abu Mazen the cold shoulder until the terror stops is perfectly justified. This is no trick or gimmick to get out of implementing the disengagement plan. Sharon actually prefers to have someone to talk to on the other side when the pullout goes through.
He wants a dialogue in a friendly atmosphere. He wants somebody to be there on the receiving end when assets are handed over. He wants understandings on future cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government. He wants Gaza to be the threshold for continued talks and the gradual implementation of the road map.
We saw the faces of the Palestinian voters as they geared up for the Palestinian Authority's first democratic elections. They were beaming with joy and optimism. We're not the only ones who are tired. So are they. On both sides, there was hope for the end of violence and a rosier future.
No one imagined that the week of Abu Mazen's inauguration would be one of the most difficult and disappointing we have known. I'm not saying he organized this latest bloodbath to prove to his people that he is just as tough and two-faced as his late predecessor, may Allah have mercy on him. But there is a lot of resemblance: You talk about a just peace between the two peoples, smile for the cameras and launch terror attacks. As the bombs explode, you immediately apologize for killing people.
Abu Mazen has been prime minister before. After many years at Yasser Arafat's side, he knows how the system works: Shoot and cry.
To say that Sharon was too hasty in calling off the meeting or to criticize him for not giving Abu Mazen 100 days of grace is ridiculous. Abu Mazen has had enough time to learn the ropes in the Palestinian Authority. He knows who the instigators are. He knows who's doing the shooting and how to handle the operators who send out suicide bombers.
Abu Mazen has known for ages that he was next in line. He didn't have to start from scratch to organize things so that at least on his first day in office, his special day, the cutthroats would know there was a new boss in town. This leader, with his English suits and snazzy chinchilla hat, denounced the attacks, but like his predecessor he rolled his eyes heavenward, cleverly disguising a wink to the dearly departed, as if to say: "You taught me well, huh?
Israelis are tired of this wise guy stuff. You want to shoot, go ahead and shoot. But don't pretend to be an angel of peace. Our patience boiled over long ago. What really makes me blow my top is when the intellectuals and peaceniks huddle around Abu Mazen and say that if we want quiet, we have to pay for it with gestures, like a prisoner release. We have to win Abu Mazen over. We have to boost his image among the Palestinians.
Gestures? What gestures? We don't owe this guy a thing. Because until he proves otherwise, he is still in the pantheon of Palestinian leaders who have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
The burden of proof that something has changed in the Palestinian world is on Abu Mazen. Both Israel and America are pinning high hopes on him. We've already started doing our part, at the cost of splitting the country down the middle. Not as a favor to anyone, but as a favor to ourselves. We'll cut the strings and give you the Gaza Strip with its million and a half inhabitants. We'll be out of there, and you'll get full control.
If anyone has shifted position, we have, as you continue on your merry way, killing and waging terror. What kind of power do these people have over you that makes you so afraid of them? What are they trying to do? Drag Israel into a major confrontation so the whole world will jump down our throats?
For that reason alone, we cannot afford to follow this script. We must disengage from Gaza whether the Palestinians like it or not, and whether they cooperate or not. At the same time, we cannot sit back and resign ourselves to artillery fire on civilian settlements in Israeli territory. Every day, towns like Sderot are sentenced to a game of chance. An entire population - men and women, children and elderly - holds its breath, waiting to see if and when a mortar will fall, who will be hit and who will be the next to die. No country in the world would be willing to endure this kind of daily bombardment of its cities.
There is a breaking point and a time when the government must take off its gloves and present the other side with a flat ultimatum: For every indiscriminate round of fire on a civilian target, we will retaliate in kind on the closest and most populated Palestinian city. We will give it to them good. An eye for an eye.