ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | In the Wake of an American Victory a Road Map Hysteria

In the Wake of an American Victory a Road Map Hysteria

13 April 2003

By Yisrael Ne’eman

 

There appears to be fair amount of joyful hysteria in the Israeli press this weekend as one looks back on the downfall of Saddam Hussein.  From here most writers and broadcast commentators gleefully inform the public that the Bush administration ‘Road Map’ is next and the ‘right wing’ government of Ariel Sharon is going to be forced fed as if he were a helpless goose awaiting its fate of an exploded liver.

The Israeli media by and large is to the left and still holds dreams of an ‘Oslo’ solution based on what the Labor party under Ehud Barak was willing to offer (virtually everything).  Much to the distress of the Right the Oslo Declaration of Principles is not dead, even if the Labor understanding of widespread concessions to ensure its implementation appears to be something from the past.

The press will find itself looking a bit stupid (but they will never admit it) when PM Sharon will welcome the ‘Road Map’ as the way out of his partnership with the hard line right wing National Religious Party and National Union – Yisrael Beitainu factions who will surely quit once the government will agree to make territorial concessions.  Labor under such conditions will have no choice but to join in their stead.  Sharon will once again have his most trusted confidant and ally at his side, Shimon Peres.

Strange as it may seem, Finance Minister Netanyahu, who represents the supposed right wing of the Likud will be even more satisfied since he needs Labor’s help in passing and implementing his economic policies.  He can then make concessions to the workers and the Histadrut labor federation by blaming it on the new left wing arrivals to the coalition.  Labor leaders and especially party chairman Amram Mitzna would revel with joy in such accusations.

Furthermore, any serious concessions in moving the ‘Road Map’ forward can always be blamed on the swift, efficient American victory in Iraq which now puts the pressure on the Palestinians and Israel to move the process forward.  After all Bush owes a lot to British PM Tony Blair and the Englishman is under pressure from his continental colleagues in Berlin and Paris (not to mention his own Labor party) to show movement on the Israel front. 

Better yet Labor will be very willing to take the blame for moving the ‘peace process’ forward.  One may even find Tommy Lapid’s Shinui trying to take credit for moves towards conflict resolution since they at the moment are the moderates in the government.  It will justify to their constituency why they agreed to go into a coalition with the Likud in the first place.

True, Sharon does have reservations about the ‘Road Map’ since it does not speak of the Palestinians dropping their demands for “full refugee return” to Israel in return for their own initially borderless state.  But many Israelis to the left and center express the same concerns.

In general the media innuendo (and joy) that Sharon is the next to fall after Saddam and Arafat shows a serious lack of analysis and a shallowness wrought from a great deal of their own liberal left partisanship.