Sunday, January 08, 2006

Ariel Sharon: The things that have not changed

Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria weighs in on the impact that Sharon's exit from Israel's political scene will leave on the Mid East peace process and says although Sharon's role was vital, he thinks given the recent lawlessness in Gaza, it is the Palestinian capabilities that will appear as the next big question in regard to any further progress in the Middle East:

I do not believe that Sharon's absence would prove to be the crucial stumbling block. That's because the great obstacle to progress in the Middle East is no longer Israeli intentions but rather Palestinian capabilities. The big story that no one wants to admit yet is that the Palestinian Authority has collapsed, Gaza has turned into a failed state and there is no single Palestinian political organization that could create order in the territories and negotiate with Israel. Palestinian dysfunction is now the main limiting factor on any progress in the peace process.

There were many hopes that Gaza could become a model of what the Palestinians would do once liberated from occupation. Last week The Christian Science Monitor reported on the new scene: "As the first year devoid of an Israeli presence since 1967 dawns," it wrote, "armed militias roam the streets freely, foreigners are kidnapped with regularity, and the measure of a man in this coastal territory is not his political title, or even the size of his house, but the number of AK-47-wielding bodyguards he employs."