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投稿者 木村愛二 日時 2003 年 11 月 12 日 19:36:51:CjMHiEP28ibKM


Sharon Losing Israeli Center
Analysts see turning point in support for hawkish prime minister's policies.
-- Molly Moore


Grind of War Giving Life To Opponents Of Sharon

By Molly Moore
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, November 12, 2003; Page A01

JERUSALEM, Nov. 11 -- Three years into war with the Palestinians, Israelis are losing patience with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. With violence continuing and peace efforts at a months-old impasse, members of Sharon's government are voicing dissent, activists are pursuing independent peace initiatives and opinion polls show his approval ratings sinking.

The military's top general has publicly challenged Sharon's handling of the conflict, and long-dormant peace groups and dovish politicians are showing signs of rejuvenation. A memorial service for slain prime minister Yitzhak Rabin on Nov. 1 drew 100,000 people and turned into the largest peace rally since the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising.

"After three years, it's time to rethink," said Asher Friedberg, a political science professor at the University of Haifa. "Both sides are tired of what's going on. We're at a dead end."

Israeli pollsters and political analysts said the confluence of events and trends has produced the sharpest divisions within the Israeli leadership and among the populace since the first months of the uprising. Political leaders and analysts said the dissatisfaction among Israelis is exacerbated by mounting concern over the deterioration of the U.S. occupation in Iraq and its potential for inflaming the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Analysts said they do not believe the Sharon government is in danger of collapse, but they interpreted the trends as a turning point in the country's attitudes toward the uprising and a warning to the hawkish prime minister and his administration. With the conflict in its fourth year, more than 2,500 Palestinians and almost 900 Israeli residents have been killed.

"The mainstream is not as certain of Sharon as it was a few months ago," said David Horovitz, editor of the Jerusalem Report, a current events magazine. "Mainstream centrists in Israel want to get back to the peace table."

In a poll released late last week in Maariv, a Hebrew-language newspaper, about one-third of respondents said they were pleased with Sharon's performance, and less than one-third said they would vote for him if elections were held now.

Even some of Sharon's closest associates in his Likud Party are hesitant to defend the prime minister.

"Are the people unhappy with the present situation?" said a senior official in Sharon's administration, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Yes, they are unhappy to a certain extent -- maybe even to a large extent."

The official said that Sharon's "not having delivered to the extent that people hoped for on the security angle certainly does cause concern" within the administration.

Sharon campaigned in 2001 and 2003 on promises to restore security to the country, and his government has relied on harsh military measures in the Palestinian territories. But with the conflict still unresolved, his policies have come under increasing criticism, particularly the occupation of the West Bank, assassinations of suspected militants, demolitions of their homes and the construction of a $2 billion West Bank fence complex. Sharon has argued that such actions are necessary to stop suicide bombings and other attacks in Israel because the Palestinian Authority has made no effort to rein in militant organizations.

Sharon also is struggling with a deep economic crisis and is mired in scandals involving family business deals and allegedly illegal campaign contributions.

The prime minister does not feel threatened, however, the official said: "Frankly, there is no one to beat him."

At the same time, Israeli officials say they believe that with President Bush facing what could be a tough reelection campaign, Sharon expects to be largely free of pressure from Washington to make any major policy changes for at least another year.

But in recent days, some of the most vocal dissent has come from one of the country's most powerful figures, Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, chief of staff of Israel's armed forces. Frustrated that Sharon had ignored his recommendations to loosen some of the curfews and roadblocks that have paralyzed Palestinian life in the West Bank, Yaalon three weeks ago took his concerns to the Israeli news media. He suggested that government policies were creating more terrorism than they were preventing and accused Sharon's government of having done nothing substantive to support the first Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, who resigned in September.

Sharon reportedly was furious at Yaalon's public criticism but in recent days has agreed to slightly loosen the clampdown on Palestinians in the West Bank and has been far more conciliatory in his public comments toward Abbas's newly nominated successor, Ahmed Qureia, than he was to Abbas, even though Qureia is regarded by Palestinian officials as less likely to stand up to Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader.

Proponents of three separate peace proposals said they hope their efforts will pressure Sharon to shift from the exclusive use of military tactics against the Palestinians and embrace political negotiations.

"There is a static situation," said Justice Minister Tommy Lapid, who heads the Shinui Party, which proffered one of the independent peace proposals by suggesting that Jewish residents be moved out of the Netzarim settlement in the Gaza Strip, where three Israeli soldiers recently were killed by a Palestinian gunman. "Nothing is moving while people are dying. We think we should restart the peacemaking engines."

Sharon and some of his cabinet ministers were enraged by the independent proposals, which have received strong words of encouragement from international leaders, including Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.

"People understand the promises from Sharon have not been fulfilled and the situation is worse off," said Yossi Beilin, a prominent member of the Labor Party who helped craft the 1993 Oslo peace accords and has drafted, along with former Palestinian information minister and longtime Arafat associate Yasser Abed Rabbo, a proposal called the Geneva accords.

Under the proposal, which would create a separate Palestinian state, Israel would give up claims of sovereignty over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and such West Bank settlements as Ariel and Efrat, while Palestinians would effectively drop demands that refugees be allowed to return to Israel. "I think public opinion will tend to support our draft agreement and will put pressure on the government," Beilin said.

The third proposal was offered by Sari Nusseibeh, a Palestinian who is president of Al-Quds University, and Ami Ayalon, the former chief of Israeli security services, which also would require Palestinians to give up the so-called right of return, make Jerusalem an open city that would serve as capital of Israel and a Palestinian state, and require Jewish settlers to leave the Palestinian state. A petition in support of the plan has been signed by 100,000 Israelis and 60,000 Palestinians.

Some analysts express skepticism that any of the independent plans has a serious chance to advance.

"In both Palestinian and Israeli societies, the public is not likely to join a movement unless they are somehow sanctioned by the elected government," said Ephraim Yaar, a pollster for Tel Aviv University's Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research. "The leaders of the left are mistrusted" by the public, he said.

But Powell praised Beilin and Rabbo for their efforts, and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz told an audience at Georgetown University two weeks ago that the Nusseibeh-Ayalon proposal represented "a significant grass-roots movement."

Wolfowitz added, "As Americans, we know there are times when great changes can spring from the grass roots."

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