December 19, 2003

Sharon's Disengagement Plan

Get ready for a long hot summer in Israel. Sharon's recent speech outlines a huge stick that will be wielded if Palestinians do not undertake their portion of the US Roadmap plan to the satisfaction of Israel. The security fence construction is being accelerated. Far flung jewish settlements in the occupied territories will be evacuated/relocated. And Israel will make a unilateral defense line separating palestinians from their best hope of a functioning economy, jobs in Israel.

This is a bit of heartburn that the Bush administration could well do without and the brickbats have been flying in all directions after the speech. Enough vagueness was left in the speech to keep Sharon's coalition from immediately imploding. No settlements were named as ones too far out to be defended.

The big question is what will happen when Arafat can no longer complain about being occupied and has to actually govern territory. His democratic mandate has long ago expired. Without Israeli troops wandering across territory nominally controlled by the Palestinian Authority, what remains of his excuses for not submitting to elections? Sharon has rolled the dice and provided a highly unattractive plan B to the US Roadmap's plan A. How this bold move will settle out over the next few months is anybody's guess.

Posted by TMLutas at December 19, 2003 02:08 PM