The Right Coast

April 18, 2004
 
The Triumph of Sharon
By Mike Rappaport

It is always hard to predict the future, but for now we appear to be witnessing a tremendous victory for Sharon. He has largely secured approval from the United States and from his party for his building of the security fence, for the permanent maintenance of certain settlements in the West Bank, and for the withdrawal from Gaza. Moreover, with his killing of two Hamas leaders within a short period, it also appears he has significantly reduced the possibility that the withdrawal will be seen as an act of weakness.

If these policy initiatives can be maintained, then Sharon will have put Israel in a far safer position than it has been for years. The security fence makes it much more difficult for Palestinian terrorists to attack Israel, and will allow Israel to avoid having to defend settlements in Gaza. It thus allows Israel the possibility of some security, without having to wait until the Palestinians decide that they want to make peace.

The interesting thing about this apparent triumph is that Sharon achieved it by significantly compromising on his traditional goals of a greater Israel. Statesmanship often requires that one be flexible and Sharon has shown that he can abandon traditional positions in return for even greater gains.