Gilad Sher prefers the term disengagement or disassociation,
rather than separation. He believes it unlikely that the near
future will produce a practical solution, and sees a tendency
towards further deterioration and a resurgence of tribal instincts,
though not necessarily full-fledged war.
Sher has spent thousands of hours in negotiations, and the final
agreement will, by necessity, be reached only through negotiations.
But today, dialogue and negotiations are inadequate.
Separation between the two peoples was the underlying logic of the
process that began in 1991. Israel can't surrender its national
interests: democracy, Jewish identity, security, its ethical
heartland are all at stake today. What is needed is to secure our
Jewish, democratic identity through an historic, territorial
Today, the only realistic approach is unilateral disengagement.
About 80 percent of the settlers would remain, while both sides
would renew their commitment to negotiations based upon the Clinton
guidelines and the latest common draft of the Quartet's Road Map.
An Israeli withdrawal would end the occupation and lead to a
provisional Palestinian state, before the final status
negotiations. This would enable the Palestinians to develop their
own society. The success of this approach depends upon our ability
to differentiate between essentials and expendables.
Hanna Siniora believes that, given the Israeli economic
situation, there may not be enough money available to complete the
building of a wall.
Siniora can't contemplate any forward momentum in the next four
years. The June 24 Bush speech and the Quartet's Road Map have
already been by-passed by events, particularly given the current
state of relations between the US and Europe, with a new alliance
being created by the American neo-conservatives and the East
Europeans. If the West can't agree on a policy of war or
containment on Iraq, how can it promote the Road Map? There are
also fears of religious wars between born-again Christians and
Still, the Road Map is one of the few glimpses of a possible
solution available. But if the possible war is not a "surgical"
one, Bush won't be able to implement his vision of a Palestinian
state by 2005. Domestic policy influences foreign policy, and he'll
be in the midst of elections.
Any unilateral step would create new borders, and some villages
will be left on the other side of the wall, while Israel will start
building settlements around it. Siniora doesn't believe it's
possible to talk with Ariel Sharon, but he was elected, so there's
no alternative. Yet Sharon has already raised a hundred
reservations about the Road Map, and he doesn't want a timetable
for a solution. As for changes in the Palestinian leadership, that
can only be the result of free elections, not Israeli or American
imposition. Professor Menachem Milson tried to promote the Village
Leagues as an alternative to the PLO almost 25 years ago, and it
Sharon promised to provide security for Israelis, but never have so
many Israelis and Palestinians been killed. There is a terrible
economic situation, on both sides. Maybe a revolt in both
communities will lead to different leaderships.
Sharon should remove at least one settlement, like Netzarim in the
Gaza Strip, as a first step. More people have been killed guarding
it than there are settlers living in it. What we need is for an
Israeli leader to become a Nixon or a de Gaulle.