Editorial View - By Asher Shla'in

[Comments are welcome at our Dialogue Corner]

The Cease-Fire As An Opportunity

This is not an attempt to justify or criticize PM Sharon for accepting the "Road Map".

Indeed, if the terrorist activity is to be halted for some time, economic situation may be eased - not only for Israelis, but even more so for Palestinians. It may even lead to Palestinians returning to work within Israel and tourists beginning to visit attractive sites in Palestinian areas.

Maybe the Palestinians will then remember better times, before the intifada. Although at present they are sore, angry, desperate and vengeful - and their leaders succeed in blaming it all on Israel - one can hope that experiencing the improvement will diminish their support for renewal of hostilities.

Still, we may ask why, beyond accepting the "Map", Sharon expressed several times explicit support for a Palestinian state and even spoke ill about "the occupation". Was not his other talk about "painful concessions" sufficient?

Trying to understand this, one needs to activate some prudent imagination.

Just look into this: Is it not obvious that Sharon, Bush and Abu Mazen - the three of them (!) - want to give the (even temporary) cease-fire a real chance?

And it seems to work!

One may claim that the terrorist leaders have been pushed toward a (temporary) calm by the recent Israeli operations against their person - but they cannot afford overt capitulation. (Anyway, such attacks are not the obstacles to "Hudna" as some claim).

Abu Mazen seems to need Sharon's radical talk, as his own "achievement": never before did an Israeli PM express open agreement to a Palestinian state! This seems to help the terrorist leaders to climb down from their tall trees.

So, why not imagine that Sharon's "appeasing" expressions were pre-arranged with both Bush and Abu Mazen?...

Indeed, the terrorists may use the cease-fire to rebuild their terror infrastructure. Yet, we Israelis now have our own opportunity.

We should use this period to promote peace with the population. The result of the ensuing race between reconciliation and hatred can depend largely on our conduct - on the extent that we attend to the Palestinians' human needs and their personal dignity.

Asher Shla'in, , 30/June/2003

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