Is it possible to look right but be wrong? Yes, and a Washington Post
editorial on Israels Gaza Strip withdrawal, "Mr. Sharons
Resolve" (August 18) showed how.
The Post noted that "what Mr. Sharon [Israeli Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon] calls his unilateral disengagement plan will advance
the chances of peace only if Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
reciprocates by disarming and bringing to heel groups such as Hamas, which are
responsible for many terrorists attacks on Israel." Thus, the commentary
seemed to be putting responsibility for progress in Israeli-Palestinian
diplomacy where it belonged on the Palestinian Arabs. The editorial also
praised Sharon and the Israeli army for acting "with exemplary conviction
and restraint in carrying out the eviction" of Jewish settlers and their
supporters from the Gaza Strip.
But these were just pro-forma introductory remarks, after which the
newspaper editorial resumed its obsessive focus on Sharon and Israel.
Immediately after citing Abbas responsibility, the Post added:
And it [Gaza disengagement] will
bear fruit only if the Israeli leader stands ready for further negotiations
toward the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state. Mr. Sharon and his
advisers have given mixed signals on that theme, and on the prospects of
further territorial concessions in return for Palestinians steps toward peace.
So, according to the editorial, the success of the Gaza disengagement
depends not on Abbas stemming terrorism from the Gaza Strip but on Israel
clarifying that it will make "further territorial concessions"
regardless of what the Palestinian Arabs do.
"In the coming days," according to the Post,
"Sharons hand will need to remain steady" this due to the
isolated acts by Israeli individuals (an Israeli woman immolated herself to
protest disengagement, an Israeli man murdered three Palestinian workers, and
religious nationalists want to force the government to reverse its decision).
But the editorial says no more about Abbas and the Palestinian Authoritys
primary responsibility to disarm and dismantle the terrorist groups whose
actions really threaten what the Post calls "chances of
"Sharon," the commentary concludes, "is clearly equal to the
immediate challenge of withdrawing from Gaza. The question is whether he is up
to the long-range one of securing a lasting peace."
Wrong. Real peace-making is reciprocal Israel leaves the Gaza Strip,
the Palestinian Authority finally eliminates the terrorist infrastructure, as
it has been committed to do since the 1993 Oslo Accords but consistently
refused or failed, and then Israel pursues new negotiations that might include
further territorial concessions by both parties (Israel is under no obligation
to return to the vulnerable pre-1967 armistice lines).
Israels Gaza disengagement does not change the question of whether the
Palestinians want, and are up to, securing a last peace.
The Wall Street Journals same-day editorial,
"Israels Agony, Palestines Future," notes that "the
man who could make the withdrawal work" is Abbas. But hell have to
prevent Hamas from taking over Gaza, confiscate illegal weapons, introduce law
and order, and reign in his own movements al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade
none of which hes done yet.
"In the coming months," the Journal says, "Mr. Abbas
may seek to deflect attention from his governments shortcomings by
demanding further Israeli withdrawals from the West Bank. But Israel cannot be
expected to make further wrenching withdrawals if the message from the
international community is that they are never enough. And Palestine will have
no hope of becoming a functional and civilized state if no serious demands are
made of it to reform its institutions and eliminate its culture of terrorism
The Posts "Mr Sharons Resolve" demonstrates the
deflected attention the Wall Street Journal warns of. That the paper
does not insist on the PA functioning in a civilized manner but demands
additional Israeli concessions regardless was confirmed by its follow-up
editorial "After Gaza" (August 25). This reads like paid propaganda,
claiming that "as in Gaza, a withdrawal from the West Bank eventually will
have to occur whether or not Israel receives any concessions from the
Palestinians in return."