“Sharon will not give up Jerusalem and so the Arab-Israeli dispute will remain. [He] can only one up himself for so long”
There is a great line in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Kirk is chosen to make peace with the Klingons at Spock’s urging. When Kirk confronts Spock, Spock says there is an old Vulcan proverb, “Only Nixon could go to China.” Well, only Ariel Sharon could order a withdrawal of settlements from Gaza, and so he has.
It is tragic, but also satisfying to see Israel, for once, cast in a positive spotlight in the media. When Arabs were uprooted from their land in Israel proper, the Israeli government paid them for their land losses. Now the Jews being uprooted from Gaza are met with their own troops at the gates to forcibly evict them. 40,000 soldiers have been deployed to close 21 Jewish settlements in Gaza consisting of approximately 7,500 settlers.
It was a moment of personal failure for Mr Sharon, once a fervent supporter of the settlements in Gaza, when he told Israel, “Gaza cannot be held on to forever”. “Over one million Palestinians live there, and they double their numbers with every generation,” he said. “They live in incredibly cramped refugee camps, in poverty and squalor, in hotbeds of ever-increasing hatred, with no hope whatsoever on the horizon.”
While the Israeli citizens are uprooted, the question remains — what to do with the Palestinians? As long as there is a “zionist” problem, the Arab states can cast their blame for all their problems towards Sharon. Now Sharon has done what none thought he or the Israelis would ever do, and in the process has taken a key card away from Arab rulers.
Despite Sharon’s move, the Arabs will continue to complain about the West Bank. Should Sharon give up the West Bank, the Arabs will complain about “the wall.” Should Sharon give up the wall, the Arabs will complain about Jerusalem. Should Sharon give up Jerusalem, well, Sharon will not give up Jerusalem and so the Arab-Israeli dispute will remain. Sharon can only one up himself for so long and that begs another question — should this first step have even been taken when the Arabs will continue to insist on additional steps that will, at some point in the future, result in a step insisted on that the Israelis will not take?
Already posters in Gaza say “Today Gaza, tomorrow the West Bank and Jerusalem.” Peace in the Middle East is a catchy campaign slogan, but it is also a reality we will never see.