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When Sharon Loses His Cool

08 August 2002

By Yisrael Ne’eman

‘Fat Boy is going crazy, Fat Boy is throwing a fit’.  Such was the chorus sung by Israeli soldiers in Lebanon throughout the summer of 1982 when then defense minister Ariel Sharon ordered massive bombings of PLO strongholds and eventually sent Israeli troops all the way to Beirut.  In the past two days Prime Minister Sharon is back to his feisty ways, but much more restrained than 20 years ago.  After taking a helicopter tour over the supposed ‘buffer zone’ and  showing up to speak with the troops in the field he is said to be furious over the failure to build the fence or buffer zone.

Sunday’s bus bombing at Meron appears to be the turning point with the fence, no more excuses, no more consideration to be shown for Palestinian suffering when  workers were in essence ‘allowed’ to cross into Israel.  Sharon knows that without a fence and credible buffer zone his chances of getting re-elected are dwindling.  Years ago Sharon was reported to have remarked that if faced with a massive terror campaign it was preferable to lock the territories down even if the Palestinians faced hunger than to allow for Jews to be blown up.  It looks as if that policy will only be implemented now.   Supposedly within a few months, much of the fence is to be completed.  This is yet to be seen. 

In addition homicide/suicide bombers’ homes are now to be destroyed as a deterrent to future bombers.  Anyone helping the bomber is to be exiled to Gaza.  With the expected establishment of the fence, the Palestinian population will be under more pressure than ever before.  Additionally any Israeli involved in terror activities against the state may lose his citizenship.

Even the Palestinian leadership is beginning to feel the heat as a high level delegation led by Sa’ab Erekat will be heading for Washington to improve relations and help with the humanitarian problems in the West Bank and Gaza.  But the Palestinian leadership does not move unless directly threatened and/or given orders by Palestinian Authority Chairman Arafat to take action.

The threat is the possible resignation of the Labor party from the Israeli government (over economic issues of course) leaving a right wing – religious government in power.  That leaves no one to stand against the forced exile of Arafat and quite possibly much of his cabinet.  There are many on the Right who dream of the elimination of Arafat and the PA.

The Palestinian mission helps prove that Labor’s continued participation in the government ensures openings for peace, after all the delegation is arriving shortly after Foreign Minister Peres (of Labor) visited Washington.  More importantly, the power elite is only trying to save itself and has the concurrence of Labor who sees no alternative (except for the Hamas) to those in power even though they are hopelessly corrupt. 

So where is the connection between Sharon - Peres, the fence, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas? 

The fence will cut back on terror attacks in Israel and increase socio-economic pressures in the Palestinian areas.  The discussion over whether Arafat ‘can’ reign in the terrorists will be superfluous and the less terrorist pressure Israel faces, the more Arafat’s position among Palestinians is weakened.  Coupled with the impending US destruction of Saddam Hussein, Arafat will lose a major financial supporter (especially for homicide/suicide bombers) and benefactor, thus bringing about his own expendability.

With the US involved in Iraq and Arafat out of the way, such chaos will allow for Israel to go in for the ‘kill’ against the Hamas/Jihad/Tanzim terror infrastructure.  Add to this that Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld does not really consider the West Bank and Gaza to be occupied and the PA delegation finds itself unemployed.

The delegates are looking for a way to be credible representatives for the Palestinians before they lose everything, while Sharon hopes to regain popular support by building the fence and then steam rolling an offensive to crush terrorism.

These Palestinian leaders know Sharon might crush them as well, but ‘by mistake.’