NEW YORK Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is approaching its
fifth decade. It is an occupation that has inflicted unspeakable cruelty on
a civilian population of 3.5 million Palestinians, not to speak of the
suffering inflicted on Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism.

With certain notable exceptions, the overwhelming majority of Israelis have
anesthetized their reactions to these cruelties by buying into a contrived
narrative that absolves them of all responsibility.

They have convinced themselves that “there is no Palestinian partner for a
peace process.” A perverse Palestinian leadership, the current argument
typically runs, is now sabotaging the latest opportunity created by Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon’s promise of a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from
Gaza by failing to prevent terror attacks on Israeli civilian targets,
proving once again that despite Israel’s best efforts, there is no
Palestinian interlocutor for peace.

Against this background, Sharon’s senior adviser and until recently his
chief of staff, Dov Weissglas, in an interview in Haaretz, describes in
gleeful detail why the proposed disengagement from Gaza – which he and
Sharon had persuaded President George W. Bush and both houses of Congress
to endorse – was actually intended to prevent a peace process, to consign
Bush’s “road map” to oblivion and to preclude the emergence of a
Palestinian state of any kind.

Apparently Weissglas was concerned that there might be some Israelis who
still believed that despite Sharon’s intention of killing the peace
process, a disengagement from Gaza might nevertheless trigger further
disengagements in the West Bank – an argument advanced by Shimon Peres, the
Labor Party chairman, and others on Israel’s left who have been salivating
at the prospect of being invited by Sharon to rejoin his government.

Weissglas assures us that given the conditions Sharon attached to a
theoretical resumption of a peace process, “Palestinians would have to turn
into Finns” before this could happen..


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