Quid Pro Quo
Sharon seeks a trade from Bush: Israeli restraint for U.S. coordination.
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
while holding out the promise of Palestinian state-
hood in three years if they did so.
Now, with Israeli troops again occupying
Palestinian cities, towns and villages, both the
Americans and British have taken up the Palestinian
The primary impetus no doubt is concern for
Palestinian suffering. But the pressure also is intend-
ed to signal to the Palestinians that the United States
and Britain are sensitive to their needs and can cre-
ate conditions conducive to political negotiation.
The latest directive from Washington to ease con-
ditions in the Palestinian territories, delivered by
U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer,
was couched in exceptionally blunt lan-
Sharon was accused of failing to keep
his promises to-ease the plight of the Palestinian
population and the Israeli army was accused of
ignoring settler violence against Palestinians.
In a private conversation with the Israeli general in
charge of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, British
Ambassador to Israel Sherard Cowper-Coles was even
more blunt: Israel was in danger of turning the terri-
he first shot has yet to be fired in the
anticipated American-led war against
Iraq, but diplomats already are preparing
for a concerted effort to resolve the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict as soon as it's over.
The "Quartet," made up of the United States,
European Union, Russia and the United Nations, is
refining ideas for a political road map to be presented to
Israel and the Palestinians when America's business with
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is finished.
Such efforts formed the subtext to Israeli
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's meeting with
President Bush in Washington this week.
Indeed, Sharon is worried about the international
The Bush administration is exerting tremendous
community trying to move too early and too fast on
pressure on Israel to take a low profile in a war with
the Palestinian track. He fears Israel's interests may
Iraq, even if Israel is attacked.
be sacrificed both before an attack on Iraq — as
Recent statements that Israel must defend itself from
America tries to build an international coalition —
Iraq may be cover for what Sharon hopes to extract in
and after the attack as America tries to rebuild
Washington: an American commitment to coordinate
strained ties with the Arab world.
post-Iraq policy on the Palestinian issue with Israel.
Therefore, Sharon sees the main goal of
Both the United States and Britain have
Israeli diplomacy as coordinating with the
assured Israel that there will be no "imposed
United States what policy on the
settlement" of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Palestinians will be after a war on Iraq.
Sharon, however, fears a situation in which
he left for his meeting in
the powers don't formally impose anything
Sharon made sure that arrange-
but exert enormous pressure on Israel to make
made to hand over frozen
compromises it finds untenable.
and that the process
In broad outline, the Quartet-envisions a
of removing illegal settlement outposts in
three-year process with steps happening in
the West Bank had begun. Pundits saw this
an attempt to convince the international
• a general cease-fire;
that Israel was ready to make
• an Israeli withdrawal to positions held
moves on the Palestinian track
before the Palestinian intifada (uprising)
began two years ago;
• a further Israeli withdrawal from the West
tough public statements about Israel's readi-
Bank and Gaza Strip;
President Bush welcomes Isralei Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to the
ness to defend itself if attacked by Iraq.
• the establishment of a Palestinian mini-
White House on June 10 in Washington.
Sharon knows very well the United States
state under an international protectorate for
Israel to stay out of the war, and pun-
statements were intended to
• talks on final borders, Jerusalem, refugees and
the transition to full Palestinian independence.
the circumstances in
British Prime Minister Tony Blair already has
which Israel would receive a green light from the
stage. It would help separate Israeli and Palestinian
called for an international conference whose agenda
Americans to retaliate against Iraq — for example,
forces, keep a lid on Palestinian terror, restore
would, to a large extent, be governed by those ideas.
if it was attacked with nonconventional weapons or
Palestinian civilian life, rebuild Palestinian civil soci-
suffered massive casualties.
ety and create functioning institutions, he argues.
Sharon especially wants to make sure the United
In an interview, he emphasized the need to build
will stick to Bush's demands for thorough
For months, the United States and other members
of Palestinian Authority institutions and the
of the'Quartet have been trying to find a way to
election of new leaders not compromised by terror.
ry it has taken in response to Palestinian violence.
back Israel's struggle against Palestinian terrorism
Only then, in Sharon's view, can serious negotia-
"I agree if Israel pulls out of the territories there
while, at the same time, giving the Palestinians hope
on Palestinian statehood begin
is a risk of terrorism flaring up again," Cowper-
for a better future.
In his watershed June 24 speech, Bush tried to
tration will help avoid future misunderstandings on
dence it needs to pull back is for there to be some
square the circle by calling on the Palestinians to
that score. ❑
elect new leaders not associated with terrorism,
security forces as they reform and get a grip on
security. It's unlikely that the Palestinians would be
able to do it themselves or that Israel would have
confidence in them doing it themselves."
Britain would be willing to provide monitors,
observers and trainers, Cowper-Coles said. The
United States and France have said they would be
willing to do the same.
Sharon, however, is firmly opposed to the protec-
torate idea. He argues that there is too much
potential for friction between Israel and the inter-
national force, which he believes would not be able
to halt Palestinian terror attacks but would impede
Israeli efforts to retaliate.