»Sharon is not going to cede to the Palestinian Authority any land taken in 1948. What he is trying to do is draw the borders while annexing parts of the land occupied in 1967 – this is his idea of “unilateral disengagement”. Meanwhile, he complains that he cannot find a Palestinian partner with whom to share his ideas of a Palestinian state; a state established on 40 per cent of the West Bank plus Gaza. Sharon’s speech at the Herzlia Conference should be taken seriously, for the man does not believe that a lasting solution is possible at the moment. He wants to get rid of the roadmap while portraying “unilateral withdrawal” as a daring step. In doing so, Sharon is helped by the clamour the Israeli right is raising about the evacuation of settlements. The right, with nothing better to do, is creating an “existential crisis” about the settlements to be evacuated so as to protect other settlements.«
»So long as the evacuation of the 17 settlements (why not the 21 settlements?) from Gaza is not taking part through negotiations, it cannot be seen as prelude to evacuating West Bank settlements. The whole scene of theatrics – the confrontation with settlers, ministerial crises, referendums, and other sorts of innovative deception – cannot just be repeated every two or three years. Israel is simply pulling out of one place to consolidate its settlements elsewhere. It is clear that Sharon likes to take unilateral steps, for he assumes that no Palestinian partner is willing to accept his current ideas. He is willing to pay the price for the unilateral imposition of borders, by evacuating 17 settlements that had no hope of surviving in the first place. As international and Arab public opinion is distracted with Israel’s shenanigans, people forget that Sharon’s main aim is to impose borders unilaterally and consolidate Israel’s control of parts of the West Bank.
Sharon has become the main focus of Arab public opinion, as if he is the sole effective player left. People hang on to his every word. Some Arab media relay his speeches live. Such is the paralysis of the Arab situation. The man is practically announcing the death of the roadmap, on which the Arabs have pinned so much hope. He is also trying to maintain a strategic understanding with the US while breaking the spine of the nationalist movement in the West Bank and Gaza, through endless repression and brutality. «
»The Arabs are being out-manoeuvred by Sharon, and they cannot compensate for this by relying on foreign countries. The Arabs need a common denominator, something that keeps them united despite differences on detail. The Arabs cannot fail to coordinate their position in dealing with the US, while hoping to get their act together with Europe. Europe is not going to help the Arabs unless the latter achieve a modicum of coordination. Should the Arabs continue to deal with the US in this same fragmented way we see now, it is only a matter of time before official Europe toes the US line. Each time the Arabs act so powerlessly towards the US, Europe is likely to step backwards. One cannot be domestically weak and expect help from outsiders.«
»No one knows exactly what Sharon’s ideas are concerning Israel’s annexation of “unpopulated” land in the West Bank in exchange for land inhabited by Arab Israelis. Such ideas are racially motivated. No modern state, democratic or undemocratic, can treat part of its citizens as a “demographic problem” or “demographic bomb” and not expect this to lead to massacres and international condemnation.
Sharon seems to agree with what Netanyahu said at the Herzlia Conference; namely, that the real demographic problem is that of Israel’s Arabs. Sharon believes that the number of Israeli Arabs should be reduced in the course of reaching a lasting settlement with the Palestinians. Using a more cagey language, he told the newspaper Ma’ariv: “I have suggested that the legal aspects of such a move be examined.” Whether Sharon is serious about such a move or not, and whether the Palestinians are consulted or not, what is clear is that the Israeli prime minister is creating a question mark regarding the citizenship of Israeli Arabs. Theirs is a citizenship on probation, diminished. Israeli law differentiates between two types of citizenship. One is an ideological citizenship, emanating from the definition and purpose of the state, and it applies to Jews. The other is an accidental citizenship occasioned by the presence of Arabs in the country, and this can be disputed and reconsidered. This discrimination arises from Israel’s definition of itself as a state for the Jews. «
»While doing so, Israel seems to enjoy blackmailing the 1948 Arabs by making them continually express the desire to remain as citizens of that state. Israel loves it when 1948 Arabs prefer their current citizenship to that of a Palestinian state. So proud is Israel each time the Arabs express desire to remain Israeli citizens. The situation is so similar to one in which a Mexican living in America is grabbed by the collar and asked if he wants to retain his US citizenship. The only difference, however, is that the 1948 Arabs did not emigrate to Israel, Israel emigrated to them. «