The Economist: "The World Hasn't Collapsed"
One of the newspapers which attacked Sharon with special
venom was the British Economist. This weekly, which
is well known for its sharp and cynical style, published a
special article against Sharon prior to the elections. Now,
after Sharon's victory, an article has appeared with a new
tone, which proves that the British have been blessed with
keen political senses.
The Economist now writes that the world has not
collapsed after the Israelis chose Sharon as prime minister
with a startling majority of votes.
" . . . but it is darkly overcast. In his younger years, Mr.
Sharon committed, or allowed others to commit, deeds that
were vile, dangerous and sometimes both. But the past is
another country. Mr. Sharon's current concern is to
demonstrate his new-found maturity, and his ambition is to
create a broad coalition.
"If he succeeds, nothing much may change--with the big
exception that the seven years spent weaving a permanent
settlement between Israel and the Palestinians will have
come to an end. The Oslo process, which began with the
signing of a declaration of intent on the White House lawn
in September 1993, has run its course. The search for a
permanent peace, probably under a different formula, will be
resumed at some point. But for the moment it is over.
"One of Mr. Sharon's most popular campaign promises was that
he would not allow any talk of peace so long as violence
persisted. Fine, but his related pledge, to end the
violence, is unconvincing. Israelis elected him because they
believed that he would somehow make them safer from
Palestinian attack. Although Israel has long since stopped
feeling threatened as a nation-state, nearly 50 Israelis
have been killed since the Palestinian intifadah (uprising)
broke out at the end of September. The voters dismissed Ehud
Barak, who acknowledged their decision by resigning as
Labour's leader, because they blamed him for their personal
"But what can a Sharon government do that a Barak government
did not do? The Israelis, resenting the criticism, have
already been chided for excessive use of force--shooting to
kill by snipers, bombing from helicopter gunships--and for
the collective economic punishment of every single
Palestinian. As Palestinian casualties soared, local
Palestinian leaders changed their tactics in order to raise
the cost to Israel: soldiers and settlers were declared
legitimate targets. Mr. Sharon may hope to silence the
revolt by even fiercer retaliation--he has talked of
wholesale house- demolishing--but, at this stage in the
intifadah, ferocity is more likely to deepen the cycle of
violence and counter-violence than to halt it."