Sussman on Sharon's plans

The second MERIP article I want to link to (here is my post about the first) is by Gary Sussman, a professor at Tel Aviv University. In this important article, Sussman articulates what I've always thought about Sharon's withdrawal plan from Gaza: that it's a sham designed, as Dov Weiglass famously said, to put the peace process "in formaldehyde" and encourage the idea that a Palestinian state already exists in Jordan.

In the long term, the Israeli premier hopes that the Palestinian state will meld with Jordan. His assumption is that unilateral disengagement from Gaza and parts of the West Bank, his plan for a carefully managed transition away from direct Israeli rule over the majority of the Palestinians, will set this process in motion. Over time, Sharon calculates, contiguity between “Palestine” and its neighbor to the east, as well as increased trade, cultural ties and the “democratization” championed by the Bush administration, will induce Palestinians on both the West and East Banks of the Jordan to agitate for Palestinian-Jordanian federation themselves. If one assumes that Sharon has quietly held on to his once openly expressed belief that “Jordan is Palestine,” his break with his old supporters among the settler movements and the right becomes easier to understand.

The argument is quite complex and detailed, so it is worth reading the entire article.

The article is illustrated by a recent map [PDF, 1.6MB] of Israel and the occupied territories that speaks a thousand words.

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region,