By Uri Avnery
Sharon's Speech: Decoded Version
He read out the written text of his [12/18/03] speech,
word for word, without raising his eyes from the page.
It was vital for him to stick to the exact wording,
since it was an encoded text. It is impossible to
decipher it without breaking the code. And it is
impossible to break the code without knowing Ariel
Sharon very well indeed.
So it is no surprise that the flood of interpretations
in Israel and abroad was ridiculous. The commentators
just did not understand what they had heard. That's why
they wrote things like "He did not say anything new",
"He has no plan", "He is marking time", "He is old and
tired". And the usual Washington reaction: "A positive
Nonsense. In his speech, Sharon outlined a whole,
detailed - and extremely dangerous - plan. Those who
did not understand - Israelis, Palestinians and foreign
diplomats - will be unable to react effectively.
Here is the deciphered text of Sharon's "Herzliyah
The name of the game is Hitnatkut ("cutting ourselves
off"). Meaning: most of the West Bank area will become
de facto a part of Israeli, and the rest we shall leave
to the Palestinians, who will be enclosed in isolated
enclaves. From these enclaves, the settlements will be
Stage One: In order to do this, we need time - about
half a year. We are talking about a large-scale and
complicated military operation. The army will have to
occupy and fortify new lines, while "relocating" dozens
of isolated settlements. This will require detailed
planning, which has not yet even started. The necessary
forces and instruments will have to be prepared. Half a
year is the minimum.
During this period we shall not be idle. On the
contrary, we shall finish the "separation fence", and
it will play a major part in the new deployment. We
shall develop the "settlement blocs", to which we shall
transfer the settlers who will be relocated.
The execution of the plan in half a year is perfectly
timed. At exactly that time the American election
campaign will reach its climax. No American politician
will dare to utter a word against Israel. The Democrats
need the Jewish votes and money. The Republicans also
need the votes and the money of the 60 million
Christian fundamentalists, who support the most extreme
elements in Israel.
While we quietly prepare the big operation, we shall
continue to flatter President Bush and praise his
idiotic Road Map, without, of course, fulfilling any of
our obligations under the Map. But we shall blame the
Palestinians for violating it.
At the same time we shall pretend to seek negotiations
with the Palestinians. We shall try to meet with
Abu-Ala as many times as possible and play the game to
the end. When we are ready to go, we shall terminate
the contacts, declare the Road Map dead and state
sorrowfully that all our efforts to start peace
negotiations have failed because of Arafat.
Stage two: By then, the "separation wall" will be
ready. The Palestinian territories (Areas A and B under
Oslo) will be surrounded on all sides. In practice
there will be about a dozen isolated pockets. In order
to fulfil our promise about Palestinian "contiguity" we
shall connect the enclaves by special roads, bridges
and tunnels, which we shall be able to cut at a
The army will withdraw gradually to the separation
barrier and redeploy in the territories that will be
annexed to Israel, including, inter alia, the
settlement blocs of Karney Shomron, Elkana, Ariel and
Kedumim; the Modi'in Road and the territory south of it
up to the Green Line, all the Greater Jerusalem area
already annexed in 1967; the new neighborhoods around
Jerusalem up to Maaleh Adumim and perhaps further; the
Jewish settlement in Hebron and Kiryat Arba and the
settlements in the Hebron area; all the Dead Sea shore;
all the Jordan valley, including about 15 km of the
banks. Altogether, more than half the West Bank.
These areas will not be annexed officially, but we
shall annex them as rapidly as possible in practice. We
shall fill them with settlements (also using the
settlers from the "relocated" settlements), industrial
parks, roads, public institutions and army
installations, so that they will become
indistinguishable from parts of Israel proper.
At the same time, we shall evacuate the settlements
beyond the barrier, including those in the Gaza Strip
(with or without the Katif bloc.)
In line with the American proposal, we shall call the
Palestinian enclaves "a Palestinian State with
Temporary Borders". That will give the Palestinians the
illusion that they will be able to negotiate the
"permanent" borders. But, of course, the "separation
fence" will be the final border.
The terror will not stop completely, but the
Palestinian enclaves will be at our mercy and we shall
be able to cut each of them off at any time, prevent
movement from one to another and make life in them
intolerable. It will not be worthwhile for them to
conduct violent acts.
Officially, the Palestinians will have free access to
the border crossings to Egypt and Jordan, but in
practice we shall maintain an effective military
presence, enabling us to stop movement there at any
At first the world will scream, but faced with a fait
accompli they will quieten down. Even if Bush remains
in the White House, he will be paralysed until after
the elections at the end of 2004. If a Democrat is
elected president, he will need some months to settle
down. By then everything will be finished, and we shall
be able to generously agree to some minor adjustments.
This is the Plan. Can it be realized?
It is quite possible that Sharon will convince Israeli
public opinion. The great majority of the public is
united around two points: (a) the longing for peace and
security, and (b) the distrust of Arabs and the
unwillingness to deal with them. (Some weeks ago, a
satirical supplement published a slogan: "YES to peace,
NO to Palestinians".)
Sharon's plan promises both. It promises peace and
security, and it is entirely "unilateral". No
negotiations with Palestinians are required, it does
not depend on the will of the Arabs, who can be ignored
In this respect, Sharon's plan has a great advantage
over the Geneva Initiative, which is entirely based on
the assumption that "there is a partner" and that we
must negotiate with the Palestinians and make peace
with them. Long years of brainwashing, led by Ehud
Barak and most of the other leaders of the "Zionist
Left", have convinced the Israeli public that there is
no partner, that the Arabs are cheating, that Arafat
has broken every single agreement he has signed, etc.
The Sharon plan conforms to all these myths, while the
Geneva Initiative clashes with them.
But beneath the road to the implementation of the
Sharon Plan there lie two big landmines: the settlers
and the Palestinians.
The inhabitants of the settlements that are supposed to
be "relocated" include some of the most extreme
elements of the settlement movement. There is no chance
that these will go away peacefully. They will have to
be removed by force.
That will require a huge military effort. While many
moderate settlers will remove themselves voluntarily if
given fat compensation, many others will resist.
According to an informed estimate, some 5000 soldiers
and policemen will be needed to remove just one small
"outpost": Migron, near Ramallah, which Sharon was
supposed to have removed long ago according to the Road
Map. When dozens of bigger and more established
settlements have to be removed, it will need a giant,
quasi war-like operation, requiring a general call up
of reserves, with all the political implications.
The army cannot just leave these territories with the
settlements remaining behind. As long as the
settlements are there, the army will be there. In other
words, the implementation of the plan will not be quick
and tidy, like the last night in south Lebanon, but a
process of many months, perhaps years.
While the deployment in the areas that will be de facto
annexed to Israel will be quick and effective, the
transfer of the territories that will be turned over to
the Palestinians will be very slow.
It is a complete illusion to believe that all this time
the Palestinians will quietly look on. They will see
the execution of a plan that they believe, quite
rightly, to be a device for the destruction of the
national aims of the Palestinian people. Clearly there
will be no place in the Palestinian enclaves for
returning refugees (not to mention any return of
refugees to Israel itself). To call this structure a
"Palestinian State" is a joke in bad taste.
If Sharon succeeds in executing his plan, a new chapter
in the 100-year old Israeli-Palestinian conflict will
be opened. The Palestinians will be crowded into
territories that will constitute about 10% of the
original territory of Palestine before 1948. They will
have no chance of enlarging this territory. On the
contrary: they will be afraid of Sharon and his
successors trying to remove them from what is left,
completing the ethnic cleansing of Eretz Israel.
Therefore, the Palestinians will fight against this
plan, and their struggle will intensify the more it
progresses. All possible means will be employed: firing
missiles and mortar shells over the separation barrier,
sending suicide bombers into Israel, and so on.
Probably, the violent fight will spill over into many
other countries around the world, both on the ground
and in the air. There will be no peace, no security.
In the end, the basic factors will be decisive: the
endurance of the two peoples, their readiness to
continue the bloody fight, with all its economic and
social implications, as well as the willingness of the
world to look on passively.
The idea of "unilateral peace" is strikingly original.
"Peace without the other side" is a contradiction in
terms. Learned people will call it an oxymoron, a Greek
term meaning, literally, a sharp folly.
Eventually, the fate of this plan will be the same as
the fate of all the other grandiose plans put forward
by Sharon it in his long career. One need only think of
the Lebanon war and its price.