The old peace process was going nowhere, so Bush was right to embrace
Sharon’s proposal to dismantle settlements
April 16, 2004.
A clinical definition of madness is a propensity for doing the same thing time
after time and getting the same result – but expecting something different. It
could easily be applied to all those who have clung to the Mideast peace
process as a way of bringing peace to that region.
Give President George W. Bush credit for getting out of the rut of the peace
process and trying something new. When he embraced the revolutionary
proposal by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Wednesday, the president was
acknowledging what should be self-evident: There is no Mideast peace process
Yasser Arafat and his Palestinian followers dealt a death blow to the peace
process when they proved unwilling and unable to engage in real negotiations
with Israel following the 2000 Camp David meetings and, instead, turned to
violent opposition. There have been repeated attempts to revive the peace
process since then, including Bush’s own “road map” plan.
Reacting to news that Bush would endorse Sharon’s plan, Arafat said it would
“put an end to the peace process.”
The absurdity of that statement speaks for itself. As long as Arafat is in
charge there is no peace process. And it may take years to replace Arafat and
for a real negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians to resume.
Sharon has offered a viable alternative, even if it is only an interim step. He will
withdraw Israeli troops and dismantle Israeli settlements from the Gaza Strip.
Gaza will be left for the Palestinians to run.
There are domestic political considerations for both Sharon and Bush. Sharon is
in political trouble amid allegations of personal scandal. Also, some members of
his own party oppose the dismantling of any settlements. Bush’s support will
help him at home. And, Bush, of course, wants to court the Jewish vote in an
But given the moribund state of the peace process it was time to shake the tree
and try something different.