The long-awaited speech by Ariel Sharon turns out to be much ado about nothing. Its only really noteworthy feature is the Orwellian statements contained therein:
"Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Thursday that Israel would unilaterally disengage from the Palestinians, pulling back from some territory and moving some settlements, if Palestinians do not make moves toward peace in the coming months.
Israel would also speed up construction of a contentious security barrier that dips deep into the West Bank and make it part of a makeshift border with the Palestinians, intended to provide Israel with a more easily defensible border, he said.
"This reduction of friction will require the extremely difficult step of changing the deployment of some of the settlements," he said, without naming them."
""We are interested in conducting direct negotiations, but do not intend to hold Israeli society hostage in the hands of the Palestinians. ... We will not wait for them indefinitely," he said."
Wait for them? This from a man who for nearly three years has done everything possible to avoid negotiating. Meanwhile, the Palestinians are continuously calling for immediate negotiations.
"In his speech, Sharon said Israel remains committed to the U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan and appealed to Palestinians to implement it fully.
The plan calls for "dismantlement" of violent groups, and Sharon insisted that the Palestinians carry this out. "Peace and terror do not go together," he said.
For his part, Sharon pledged to carry out Israel's obligations, including removing dozens of unauthorized settlement outposts in the West Bank. He said Israel would not allow land confiscation for settlements or building outside their present boundaries, but he stopped short of endorsing the total ban on construction in settlements detailed in the road map."
So he remains committed to a "road map" that he refuses to adhere to. And he "promises" no land confiscation for settlements while at the same time threatening to confiscate land for a wall designed to secure those very settlements.