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Sharon is prepared for a compromise:
Jerusalem Will Be Divided

Haaretz Editorial


Tel Aviv - Ariel Sharon's adviser on polling affairs, Kalman Gayer, told (or didn't tell) Newsweek that Sharon is prepared for a compromise even on Jerusalem and that "theoretically" Sharon would agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state on 90 percent of West Bank land.

This comment managed both to save the Likud from its existential confusion and to freshen up its old election slogan, "Peres will divide Jerusalem." The only reason for the establishment of the Kadima party was the attempt to escape the demagoguery of the right-wing camp and head toward the welcome direction of political sobriety. Those who see the rift in the Likud as an important event hope that Sharon will be able to run even with compromises on Jerusalem and that the unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip was a sign of more to come, and not the last word.

The widespread assumption is that Sharon does not plan to postpone the difficult decisions until the end of days, and that his being at the end of his political days is enough to spur him to carry out the painful operation of ending the occupation during his next term in office.

But his panicked response to the interview with Gayer raises doubts on this issue. Perhaps those who say that the establishment of Kadima is nothing but a vengeful exercise against the Likud Central Committee are right, and Sharon has no plans to carry out any additional political moves.

Every political plan for the resolution of the conflict with the Palestinians has also included a change in the borders of Jerusalem. The city, with the huge territory annexed to it, has become a demographic mine and a stumbling block for the establishment of a Palestinian state with reasonable territorial contiguity. Whoever annexed the Palestinian periphery to Jerusalem apparently did not think that one of these days a Palestinian state would be established. Groundless decisions have been made, like those relating to the establishment of Ma'aleh Adumim and Givat Ze'ev, that can no longer be retracted. True, these communities are included in Israeli territory even according to the Geneva Initiative map, but it is clear that any political arrangement - whichever prime minister signs it - will involve a division of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem has never been united. The fundamental key to the division was determined by Bill Clinton: What's Jewish goes to the Jews and what's Arab goes to the Arabs. There is no one who imagines that the 220,000 Arabs from East Jerusalem will be annexed to the State of Israel after an agreement to divide the two countries, and Sharon, as the one who has flown the demographic flag so high, certainly understands this.

Election campaigns tend to hide controversial messages so as to win as many votes as possible. For that reason, it is clear why Kadima officials were alarmed by Gayer's comments on Jerusalem. But when the sole justification for the existence of Kadima is those same "painful concessions" that Sharon was unable to implement under the Likud, this frenzy is a worrying sign that Sharon himself does not know what his political objectives are. Perhaps he is planning to spend an entire term resting on the laurels of the disengagement from Gaza. One could have expected that such a brave leader would respond to the new-old Likud slogan by saying that Jerusalem will be divided - because that is in Israel's interest.

Source: Haaretz, December 15, 2005.
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hagalil.com 28-12-2005



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