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Ben-Gurion University
BGU Political Science lecturer Neve Gordon justifies Palestinian Refusal to Recognize or Negotiate with Israel
Neve Gordon: No Negotiations

"Unlike Israel's withdrawal from Gaza Sharon's West Bank plan will be unanimously rejected.."

By Neve Gordon

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is a man of deeds rather than words. So on those rare occasions when he does disclose his political goals it is important to pay close attention and carefully consider every word.

Incidentally, it was during his recent visit to the U.S. that Sharon revealed how he foresees the developments between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to a group of Jewish donors. He divulged a plan he has not yet talked about in Israel, at least not in a public forum.

"There won't be negotiations with the Palestinians about Jerusalem or the settlement blocs of Ariel, Ma'aleh Edumim, and Gush Etzion," Sharon said, adding that "they will remain eternally under Israeli sovereignty within a contiguous territory." This straightforward sentence reveals both the method which Israel's premier intends to embrace and a crucial element informing the substance of his plans.

Concerning the method, Sharon clearly stated that he intends to replicate the unilateralist approach he adopted vis-à-vis the Gaza withdrawal. Israel, in other words, does not plan to discuss two of the most central aspects of the occupation -- East Jerusalem and the large Jewish settlement blocs -- and will force its plan on the Palestinians. Peace, according to this Machiavellian logic, is achieved when the strong impose their will on the weak.

No less important is the substance, and particularly the two words with which Sharon concluded his sentence; namely, "contiguous territory." This seemingly benign phrase is well worth noting, since the attempt to create a contiguous territory from the Jewish settlement blocs is tantamount to declaring war.

Allow me to explain. Ariel is a large settlement located in the heart of the West Bank's northern part. The settlement Ma'aleh Edumim is located about 30 km southeast of Ariel, while Gush Etzion is located another 20 km southwest of Ma'aleh Edumim, and is situated in the West Bank's southern part. Connecting these three settlement blocs means that the territory Sharon intends to offer the Palestinians will not be contiguous (except maybe by building tunnels!), and that Israel plans to annex a large portion of the Palestinian state-to-be, which is already a very small entity (22 percent of Mandatory Palestine).

No Palestinian leader can accept such a solution. But since negotiations, at least regarding these crucial issues, are not on Sharon's agenda, the Palestinian position is, in a sense, besides the point.

The outcome of such a move will no doubt be devastating, since unlike Israel's withdrawal from Gaza which has been endorsed by all of the Palestinian political factions, including Hamas, Sharon's West Bank plan will be unanimously rejected. Resistance will most likely mount and the bloody cycle of violence will resume, this time with even greater vengeance.

-Neve Gordon teaches politics at Ben-Gurion University, Israel. He is the editor of From the Margins of Globalization: Critical Perspectives on Human Rights, and can be reached at nevegordon@gmail.com.

Source: In These Times

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