Well, not really–it actually lasted almost four days from just after Abu Mazen won the Palestinian presidential election until yesterday’s Gaza bombing. And no, it wasn’t really a honeymoon. How can two peoples who detest each other with such intensity be said to have a honeymoon? Maybe it was just a hopeful lull. In any case, those of us who were getting our hopes too high for progress in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were brought down to earth–hard–by the Palestinian terrorists and Ariel Sharon. With yesterday’s spectacular bombing at the Karni crossing killing six Israelis and Sharon’s severing of contact with the Palestinian Authority (see Sharon Cuts Israeli Ties With Palestinian Authority), we are back in bleak territory we know so well from the past dark history of Mideast politics.
And just as Diane Mason predicted in Lawrence of Cyberia, Sharon, who no longer can play the “Arafat is no partner for negotiation” will now play the “only after they dismantle the terror network” card to short circuit any serious attempt at negotiation between the parties(the following is from the New York Times story linked above):
“The prime minister has instructed all members of the government to cease all contact with the Palestinian Authority until they take the necessary steps to curb and stop terrorism,” said Ranaan Gissin, a senior aide to Mr. Sharon. “We are suspending contacts until they investigate this incident and bring to justice those who planned it, and take real steps to stop terrorism.”
Steven Erlanger correctly notes in this story: “Mr. Sharon’s decision was unexpected, because it seemed to allow the militants to distort the Israeli-Palestinian agenda before Mr. Abbas could even form a new government…Mr. Sharon also appears to be trying to puncture Western optimism over the death of Yasir Arafat and the election of Mr. Abbas in his place.” In other words, Sharon (who certainly does not want a serious negotiation with the Palestinians) has deliberately short-circuited the peace process before it even began.
Of course, under these conditions Abu Mazen will certainly not engage in a civil war in order to satisfy Israeli interests. And that leaves us back where we were before Arafat died. The same bloody hell we were living in then we’re living in now and for the foreseeable future.