Since Sharon first began to wage his political campaign, his supporters and enemies alike have noticed that Sharon has problems with his mental abilities. More than once, while addressing an audience, Sharon has strayed from the topic, carried on talking about a completely unrelated topic, stopped for a while, and then continued talking about yet a third topic. A retired Israeli General told me that this forgetfulness has happened a few times in the Israeli cabinet and inner cabinet meetings.
Sharon made a terrible mistake on Thursday the 4th of October. He was giving a speech on the political and security developments, and made a mistake that could really hurt the feelings of Americans. Sharon likened the current stand of the U.S. and the Western countries regarding the Palestinians’ legitimate rights to the Western countries stand on the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1938. At the time the Western countries turned a blind eye to the invasion in return for a treaty with Berlin.
Sharon considered that U.S. and European support for the establishment of a Palestinian state was a deal struck at the expense of Israel in order to please the Arabs and have them join the coalition against international terrorism.
The White House immediately rejected such an analogy and some Israeli politicians demanded that Sharon apologize. Zalman Shoval, Sharon’s advisor, tried to mend the situation by explaining Sharon’s words in order to soften their blow to the Americans and lessen the damage they might do to the relations between Washington and Tel Aviv.
Sharon erred in his analogy, and in its timing. Sharon and his government knew before the 11th of September, before the attacks on New York and Washington, that President Bush and his team, which included Colin Powell, the Director of the CIA Tenet, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, had had lengthy discussions regarding the position President Bush was to take on the severe and bloody crisis in the Middle East.
It was decided that the only option was the Land for Peace formula, and that the practical implementation would be the establishment of an independent Palestinian state while at the same time ensuring Israel’s security and normalizing its Middle East relations.
Sharon and his government knew that this position would be declared during a meeting that was being arranged in New York between President Bush and President Yasser Arafat é a meeting against the backdrop of the meetings of the United Nation’s General Assembly that were to be held in the last week of September. The suicide attacks carried out on the 11th of September on New York and Washington caused the UN sessions to be postponed, thus postponing the Bush-Arafat meeting and the announcement.
This clearly indicates that Sharon waged a war on Washington to blackmail it to recant its position. Sharon accused Washington of taking this stand so as to appease the Arabs in order to build an anti-terrorism coalition that includes Arabs and Moslems. This accusation is far from true, and is far removed from the motives of the American position.
The White House is aware of this, more than anyone. It has discovered Sharon’s deceitful and fact-defaming methods through this direct experience. Washington has witnessed first-hand Sharon’s blackmail approach, which he has used several times during the first year of the Palestinian Intifada.
On another note, it has become very clear to the West and the United States that Sharon absolutely refuses to implement international legitimacy resolutions, and that he considers Israel’s withdrawal from lands it occupied in 1967 a conspiracy against Israel. It is also clear that Sharon considers the establishment of an independent Palestinian state as a threat to Israel and the Israelis.
President Bush clearly saw that Sharon does not see Israel’s occupation of Arab lands as an act of colonization like the acts carried out by the Nazis, and that Sharon is in fact reversing the facts to portray the Israeli occupation as an act opposed to Nazism.
In an article published in Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, I had exposed a coalition inside the Israeli inner government between Sharon, the army officers and the ministers of four radical political coalition parties. This coalition acted, and is still acting, to keep the fires burning by issuing the occupation army with orders to continue in the aggression against the Palestinian people.
This coalition decided to confront international pressures to hold a meeting between President Arafat and Peres by agreeing to it, and then attempting to thwart its results. Indeed, Sharon did agree to the meeting after it had been postponed, while the Israeli army, without any Palestinian provocation, escalated the savage attacks against the Palestinian people.
The toll from the few days following that meeting was more than 30 Palestinians killed, and more than 400 others wounded. This escalation led to Palestinian reactions, and forced the Palestinians to defend themselves with whatever means they had.
It is natural to expect that Sharon and his kitchen cabinet would use that as an excuse to cancel the meeting, end the cease-fire and wage their war against the Palestinians. This would be done under the umbrella of accusing Arafat of not controlling things and not abiding by the cease-fire, as was in fact the case.
What we need to focus on here is that this new war Sharon is waging against the Palestinian people is a war of confrontation with the United States. It is Sharon’s war against Washington.
Sharon felt, a year into his war against the Palestinians, that he could not achieve what he wanted to. He felt he could not achieve the promises he had made during his campaign é he promised the Israelis that he would wage a war that would force the Palestinians to submit to the occupation and not resist it; that he would force the Palestinian leadership to accept his political solutions revolving around annexing more than 65% of the West Bank to Israel, Palestinian acceptance of the settlements built in the West Bank, and achieving a long-term truce.
Faced with this failure brought on by the Palestinian people’s brave Intifada, Sharon was facing his biggest trouble yet. Internal Likud elections were on the way, elections in which he would fight Binyamin Netanyahu for leadership of the Likud. At the same time, he was facing international pressure to move on to political negotiations.
Along with all these factors came elements of internal pressure like the collapse of some Israeli economic sectors such as tourism and construction, sharp falls on the Tel Aviv stock exchange, the decrease in investments, and the complaints of recruits who had begun refusing to serve in the West Bank and Gaza.
Sharon’s biggest problem was, and still is, the general position the United States took, and Europe and Russia supported. This stand sounded the alarm with Sharon. So he took the decision to wage a war against Washington. This way Sharon would concentrate all his efforts in one direction in the hope that he would succeed in burying the independent Palestinian state project forever. The Arabs must use this to the fullest so we may be rid forever of the Israeli occupation.
Binyamin Netanyahu had previously threatened Washington about the White House’s continuing to exert pressure on Israel to implement Security Council resolution 242. Sharon is now trying to blackmail Washington and bring it down in his own way by killing hundreds of Palestinians, destroying their houses and reoccupying areas handed over to the Palestinian Authority.
Events taking place in the city of Hebron are an example of Sharon’s criminal mentality, which has not changed since the last century. Tanks are destroying citizens’ houses and bringing them down on top of their heads, like the Nazis used to do. The city is being terrorized by bullets, helicopter missiles and tank and artillery shells. Sharon will continue in these criminal acts of his in the hope that Washington will back off from its position in return for him stopping the killing of innocent people. This is indeed terrorism.
What is the difference between a terrorist blowing himself up with a plane to kill innocent civilians, and a terrorist sending out his well armed and technologically-advanced army with orders to demolish residential buildings, kill men, women and children, and to fire without discrimination? The difference is that Sharon, who is doing this, is a terrorist using state institutions to wage a war of state terrorism against an entire people. This terrorism is reminiscent of Hitler’s style of terrorism.
The time has come for the West and the United States to put an end to this sick and deranged terrorism that Sharon is using to blackmail the world, just as the blind terrorism that blew up the World Trade Center is trying to blackmail the world.
Let the powers of the free and democratic world unite to fight blind terrorism, be it the terrorism that blew up the New York towers, or the terrorism Sharon and the Israeli army are carrying out against an entire people.
This is the duty of the free and democratic world. Let the world stand up and say to Sharon enough, and force Israel to withdraw from lands it occupied in 1967. Let us work for the establishment of peace and stability by ending the organized Israeli terrorism é state terrorism against the Palestinian people and the entire region.
Bassam Abu-Sharif is a special advisor to President Arafat.