by Uri Avnery
When Ariel Sharon announced his plan for "unilateral disengagement," the media reported that the Peace Now movement was preparing a big public campaign in support. The Prime Minister's office asked them to desist, fearing that such a campaign would cause the extreme right to oppose it.
Peace Now was not the only "leftist" group that waxed enthusiastic about the plan. The chiefs of the Labor Party declared that it was really their own plan and that, therefore, it was their duty to join the government and help Sharon to implement it.
I was one of the very few who immediately raised their voice against the plan. I argued that it was really a right-wing plan for annexing most of the West Bank, burying the peace process and deceiving public opinion in Israel and abroad.
I was certain of this, because I know Sharon. I have been watching the man for 50 years and have written three biographical essays about him. I know what he thinks, and I know how he operates.
Now Dov Weisglass has confirmed everything I said and more. In an interview with Ha'aretz, he stated that the sole aim of the plan was to "freeze" the peace process. The real purpose of the "disengagement" is to block negotiations with the Palestinians for dozens of years and to prevent any discussion about the West Bank, while at the same time extending the Israeli settlements in a way that will put an end to any possibility of a future Palestinian state.
Dov Weisglass is not just anybody. He reminds one of the "eminence grise" ("gray cardinal"), the secretary of Cardinal Richelieu, the prime minister of France 400 years ago. It was said at the time that it was the secretary who was really in charge behind the scenes.
Weisglass has been the legal advisor and a close personal friend of Sharon for decades. He is Sharon's special emissary for delicate missions, the man who can twist Condoleezza Rice around his little finger. In Sharon 's menagerie, he is the fox.
His frank statement is the final word. It puts to shame not only the simple souls of Peace Now and the less simple souls like Shimon Peres & Co. of the Labor Party, but also George Bush and the other world leaders who for months have taken this piece of deceit as a serious peace plan. (Poor Colin Powell called it "historic.")
Weisglass' disclosure was vying for media attention with the "stretcher case" – a story that also reveals Sharon 's methods. It might have been funny, if it did not threaten such tragic results.
Sharon wants to destroy UNRWA, the special United Nations Relief and Works Agency that moderates the misery of the four million Palestinian refugees. It is a big organization with some 25,000 employees, including teachers, social workers and physicians, almost all of them, of course, Palestinians. It provides the refugees with food, education, health services and, in case of need, a roof over their head. Without it, the refugees would long ago have descended into an abyss of hunger and despair. At present, while our army is destroying whole Gaza neighborhoods and their infrastructure, UNRWA is providing food, tents and medical care to needy Palestinians who are not refugees.
The very existence of this organization disturbs Sharon and his generals, who want to break the resistance of the Palestinians by turning their life into hell. After working systematically to smash the Palestinian National Authority, they are now trying to crush UNRWA. As reported in the media, Sharon ordered his generals to supply the Foreign Office's propaganda department with secret army photos, in order to prove that UNRWA cooperates with the "terror organizations."
The next day, all the Israeli TV channels displayed aerial reconnaissance photos showing a Qassam rocket launcher being loaded into an UNRWA ambulance. That was the beginning of a wild campaign against the organization. Israeli diplomats in New York demanded that the Danish UNRWA director, Peter Hansen, be fired.
Two days later, the whole thing came apart. UNRWA claimed that the man in the picture was not carrying a rocket launcher but a stretcher. The generals first issued a denial, than stuttered, then half-heartedly admitted that, perhaps, a deplorable mistake had occurred: the professional analysts in the army intelligence department, lowly sergeants or second lieutenants, may have misinterpreted the pictures.
This answer needs investigating. Did the analysts lie or did they believe what they said? Each possibility is worse than the other.