Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has a key meeting with President Bush in Washington today (Apr. 14) to discuss US support for Sharon’s ‘disengagement plan.’ Here are the main actions Sharon has proposed:
Complete Israeli withdraw from the Gaza Strip, with the probable exception of the ‘Philadelphia corridor’ along the Egyptian border. This would include abandoning 21 Jewish Gaza settlements ? home to over 7,000 Israelis.
In the West Bank: 1) immediate Israeli withdraw from four small northern settlements, and 2) retaining five blocks of Israeli West Bank communities, protected by the new security fence: Givat Ze’ev, Gush Etzion, Ariel, Maale Adumim and Kiryat Arba/Hebron.
It is important to note that Sharon’s disengagement plan has yet to be approved by even his own Likud party (which votes on it in two weeks), let alone the entire Israeli government. Jerusalem Post notes that these upcoming, fiercely-debated decisions will make this month ‘one of the most politically contentious in Israel’s history.’
Rather than report these developments straight, many news outlets are misrepresenting Sharon’s plan and Washington visit as a cynical, unilateral ‘abandoning’ of the road map to a two-state solution. Some examples (emphases added):
USA Today: ‘a proposal by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to junk the Bush administration’s “road map” for Middle East peace…’
Washington Post‘s Jackson Diehl: The ‘audacious’ Sharon ‘aims to abandon a decade of efforts to arrange a negotiated settlement between Israel and a new Palestinian state…to overturn the apple cart of the Middle East peace process.’
Boston Globe: ‘Bush…would be contradicting not only longstanding US policy but his own commitment to the road map for Mideast peace if he gives Sharon the guarantees he seeks.’
These media outlets somehow manage to remove Sharon’s plan from the bloody context it springs from three and a half years of relentless Palestinian terror that has taken 957 Israeli lives and destroyed any hope for the road map to be implemented in the near future. To blame Sharon for ‘junking’ the road map? while exonerating the terrorists and their PA supporters ? simply defies reality.
Moreover, the Sharon plan does not, as the Washington Post and others state, ‘abandon’ negotiated settlement toward a two-state solution. An Israeli official describes the plan as ‘a parking place for Israel to park comfortably for some time.’ And Bush himself said:
We both [Sharon and I] are in agreement that if Israel makes the decision to withdraw, it doesn’t replace the road map, it is a part of the road map, so that we can continue progress toward the two-state solution.
Indeed, the missing condition for the road map remains as it always was? in Bush’s words, a Palestinian leadership ‘not compromised by terror.’ Israel waits patiently for that to emerge; in the meantime, Israel will exercise its right to protect its citizens.
As the Sharon-Bush meeting takes place, HonestReporting encourages subscribers to be on the lookout for local media misrepresentation of Sharon’s plan as ‘junking negotiation’ and the road map.
Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.