Author`s name Olga Savka

Ariel Sharon Is Afraid of Peace

It seems that nobody wants to find a way out of the conflict

Hardly had the talks about the "historic Aqaba summit" and "the impressive progress in the settlement of the conflict between Israel and Palestine" faded out, when optimistic expectations and hopes went up in smoke. It is not really about Israelis' unsuccessful attack against one of Hamas leaders. No one could ever seriously suppose that his elimination would make Hamas guerrillas start negotiations to assist in ceasing the terror. On the contrary, as the modern history of the conflict shows, a terrorist group leader's death will only incite new outbursts of violence on the part of feuding sides. No "road map" would ever be helpful in this case. Furthermore, negotiations in Aqaba have not provided an answer to the question - if there are political forces in Israel, Palestine and neighboring Arab states that would be sincerely interested in establishing stable peace in the region.

Yasser Arafat has been dismissed from participation in the talks. American and Israeli authorities believed that Arafat supported terrorists, or he did not do anything to stop them, to be more precise. It happens for one reason only: Arafat does not enjoy the authority and influence that he had before, so he can not control terrorist groups' activities. Therefore, a lot of things have been done to discredit Arafat as the recognized Palestinian leader. Prime minister has recently appeared in Palestine as a counterbalance to Arafat - Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen.

The new Palestinian leader does not give an impression of a pro-Israeli politician, of course - it is simply impossible. Yet, it is believed that one can at least deal with Abbas. He was appointed, if one may say so, to be in charge of the regulation of the conflict on the Palestinian part. It is hard to say, if Mahmoud Abbas wanted that himself or not. There is one thing clear, though: if Arafat is incapable of controlling all Palestinian organizations, Abbas will not be able to do that either. In fact, the Palestinian prime minister is very restricted in his actions. If he wants to use force against guerrillas, he will hardly achieve any progress. Most likely, he will lose his position, at best.

Neither Palestine, nor Israel can not realize an obvious thing for some reason - the cessation of the opposition is impossible under current conditions. No matter how beautiful official agreements between Israel and Palestine might sound - they will be broken immediately due to various political, economic reasons, external factors, and so on and so forth.

For instance, the public opinion of both Israel and Palestine does not support the idea of peace at present. Everyone wants peace, of course, but only if someone makes the first step in this direction. Concessions are supposed to be unconditional about all requirements. However, Israelis will not leave Jerusalem, they will not abolish illegal outposts on the Palestinian land. If an Israeli senior official dares to utter a word about it, he would be dismissed right away. The same thing can be said about Palestine.

Israelis and Palestinians have already conducted a lot of negotiations to settle the conflict over the latest decade. It seemed that the regulation process was gathering steam, certain measures had been done for that. Needless to mention that all of those efforts have been wasted.

George W. Bush's activity of a mediator has not brought any positive results yet. Mahmoud Abbas is experiencing the same situation - it will be a lot harder for him to convince radical groups of ceasing the terror. Ariel Sharon has been criticized by the international community, although on the other hand, he has proved his nationals that he was not going to compromise with Palestinian terrorists. It is not ruled out that the attack against a Hamas leader was arranged with a view to let Israelis see that their prime minister still has the same stance regarding the anti-terrorist struggle. Ariel Sharon is not going to negotiate anything with terrorists - it is a question to deal with for Abbas. Sharon will have nothing to do about it, whether the Palestinian prime minister makes it or not - he does not need the fame of a peacemaker. He can just smooth over the negative impression that the Aqaba summit has had on the majority of Israelis.

Nevertheless, the root of the problem is not about political intrigues. Palestinians and Israelis are used to the idea of being enemies, for the conflict has been going on for decades. This stereotype still plays the key role for the two nations, and no one knows a way to let it go. At times it seems that no one does not want to find that way.

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