Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Palestinian counterpart Abu Mazen are expected to meet on Thursday in Jerusalem. If it happens, further events must develop in compliance with the following scenario. On Tuesday, June 2nd, US President George Bush is arriving in the Middle East. His voyage will start with a visit to Egypt, where he intends to meet high-ranking officials of the Arab world in Sharm al-Sheikh on the Red Sea. They will, most likely, be representatives from Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. On Wednesday the US President will head to the Jordanian town of Aqaba to participate in the long-awaited trilateral US-Israeli-Palestinian summit, according to the Israeli television.
A few days ago both the Palestinian and Israeli governments officially approved of the peaceful plan, "The Road Map", developed by the "Middle Eastern quartet".
The complicated decision made by Ariel Sharon's cabinet caused a storm of indignation from the Israeli rightists. The indignation further increased after a number of General Sharon's statements at the meeting with Likud faction members in the Knesset, which had recently seemed so unlike him. Accordingly, the Israeli Premier stated that it was necessary to put en end to "any occupation of the Arab land".
According to observers, no Israeli Premier has ever afforded such statements, even a leftist. They all preferred to call the Western bank of the Jordan river and the Gaza strip at least "disputable". What has happened to the "Bulldozer", army fellow-soldiers used to call Ariel Sharon? What has made him change his viewpoints so drastically?
Some observers are inclined to view this change in the Prime Minister's opinion as his understanding of the real situation and first of all of the fact that further aggravation of the conflict with Palestinians is utterly dangerous for Israel. Bloody terrorist acts have been going on for over two and a half years, the number of civilians killed in the country has exceeded several hundreds. Israel's constant military operations on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip require significant funds. Meanwhile Israel is experiencing a serious economic crisis. Because of the violence, the once profitable tourist business hardly exists any longer, while high-tech enterprises are shutting down.
Other observers, however, believe that as a very experienced politician and a connoisseur of staff games, Ariel Sharon is most probably playing cunning, trying to carry out a very subtle intrigue in order to persuade foreign peacekeepers, first of all from the USA, to meet Israel's demands and adopt its 14 amendments to the Road Map.
Using the terminology so common to the peacekeepers, Sharon shows "everyone in the world" how peaceful and far-sighted the current leader of the Israeli government is. And the aggressive attack against him initiated by the country's rightist forces, is designed to convince everyone how difficult it is for him to counteract "the opponents of peace" and that if Israel does not receive support now everything may collapse for a long time.
Andrei Pravov, RIAN
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