Realism's Gift to Palestinian Radicals

In support of Ariel Sharon's plan to evacuate unilaterally all Gaza settlements and a few in the West Bank, the Bush administration backed Israel's stance on borders and refugees, two of the most important issues of Palestinian-Israeli final status negotiations. This position is in clear violation of the text of the "roadmap" to achieve a Palestinian/Israeli peace, which the Bush administration claims it continues to believe in.

That claim does not withstand scrutiny. President Bush assured the Israelis that, given the "new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers," Israel does not have to return all the territories it occupied in 1967. Moreover, in Bush's view, Israel need not worry about allowing Palestinian refugees to return to their homes inside Israel. Instead, the vast majority of refugees are expected to settle in a Palestinian state.

Given Palestinian public opinion, the most likely outcome of Sharon's disengagement plan is the empowerment of Hamas and other Palestinian militants. By presenting the settlements' evacuation as a unilateral step, Sharon allows Palestinian militants to present it as Israel bowing to the "reality" of defeat inflicted by their armed struggle. Indeed, a survey that I conducted in April 2004 found that two-thirds of Palestinians saw the Israeli plan in just this light. The same survey showed Hamas with more public support than the nationalist Fatah in the Gaza Strip.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To access our archive, please log in or register now and read two articles from our archive every month for free. For unlimited access to our archive, as well as to the unrivaled analysis of PS On Point, subscribe now.


By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.