The BBC cannot stop itself tonight. The grief embarks from the first word of the
report, stops on the faces of George Aligayah, John Simpson and Jeremy Bowen (this
morning, they had former ME correspondent Orla Guerin doing the same act), and
finishes on a desperate sigh from the newscaster. Ariel Sharon has had a stroke,
and suddenly the Israeli-Palestine conflict is supposed to be set go aflame again.
There is the usual hiding behind unidentified others: "many Palestinians"
supposedly felt that Sharon may have made their lives better, for instance. But
the open editorialising simply repeats these claims - Sharon had a plan for peace,
and now it could all be in ruins, wrecked by a tiny clot of blood, and woe betide
the Palestinians, woe betide Israel.
It bears remembering at this vital time, then, that Sharon's plan was not one
of "peace" (interesting way to frame the question). He was implementing
a plan which his senior adviser Dov Weisglass described as formaldehyde.
As in "It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that's necessary so that
there will not be a political process with the Palestinians." Disengagement
from Gaza was a precursor to the encroachment and final capture of the much
larger West Bank. As secret British government documents revealed,
Israel was engaged in actions destined to terminate the very possibility of
a negotiated settlement. Gerald Kaufman MP called
the process "ethnic cleansing".
Of course, the withdrawal from Gaza wasn't really quite that. Israel remains
power in Gaza under international law. Israel made certain to destroy much
of the area before exiting too, making 16,000
people homeless. They subsequently destroyed 3,000 homes under a spurious
pretext. And of course, Israel reserves the right
to attack Gaza.
At any rate, it is glaringly obvious that Sharon and his jaded ally, the loathsome
Shimon Peres, were not engaging in a plan to reach a just peace with the Palestinians,
even on terms that two-staters would recognise as reasonable.
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