The Sharon Unilateral Disengagement Plan

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VOL. 33

2003/04

No. 4
P. 85
Special Documents
The Sharon Unilateral Disengagement Plan
ABSTRACT

A. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Letter to U.S. President George W. Bush Presenting the Disengagement Plan, Presented in Washington, 14 April 2004 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86

B. U.S. President George W. Bush, Letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on the Disengagement Plan, Washington, 14 April 2004 . . . . . . 88

C. Key Principles of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s Unilateral Disengagement Plan, Presented in Washington, 14 April 2004 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90

D. Israeli Prime Minister’s Office Chief of Staff Dov Weisglass, Letter to U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice Outlining U.S.-Israeli Understandings, Jerusalem, 19 April 2004. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .95

E. PA Negotiation Affairs M Saeb Erakat, “Why Did Bush Take My Job?” Washington Post, 25 April 2004 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96

F. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Open Letter to the Likud, Yedi’ot Aharonot, 30 April 2004 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98

G. Quartet Statement on the Sharon Disengagement Plan, New York, 4 May 2004 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100

H. U.S. President George W. Bush, Letter to King Abdallah of Jordan on Final Status Issues, Washington, 6 May 2004 (excerpts) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103

I. UN General Assembly, Resolution 58/292 Reaffirming the Palestinian Right to Self-Determination, New York, 6 May 2004 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104

J. U.S. President George W. Bush, Letter to Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Qurai‘ on the Sharon Disengagement Plan, Washington, 11 May 2004 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105

Prime Minister Sharon’s disengagement plan was drawn up in close consultation with the United States as of early February 2004, with the participation of teams of U.S. advisers (National Security Council Middle East Adviser Elliott Abrams, Assistant Secretary of State William Burns, and Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley) and Israeli advisers (Sharon’s Chief of Staff Dov Weisglass and National Security Adviser Giora Eiland) shuttling between Washington and Jerusalem to hammer out successive drafts. The Israeli team also met with Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and there were higher level consultations between Israel’s defense minister and foreign minister with VP Dick Cheney, Powell, and Rice.

A comprehensive draft was presented by Weisglass and Eiland on 23 March, at which time additional U.S. compensation for withdrawal was also discussed.

While Bush and Sharon portrayed the plan as a vehicle for implementing the U.S.-drafted road map and realizing Bush’s June 2002 vision of a two-state solution (see Doc. C1 in JPS 125), the plan in fact brings Bush’s vision into line with Israel’s interpretation of the road map as outlined in its road map reservations of 27 May 2003 (see Special Doc. G in JPS 128)—no movement until there is a “new and different” Palestinian leadership that renounces the right of return, dismantles “terrorist organizations,” and halts all Palestinian violence everywhere; attention paid only to “performance benchmarks” and not timelines; easing of Palestinian conditions only if Israel deems that “security conditions” allow; and no discussion of any final status issues during the interim period.

Bush’s endorsement of Sharon’s unilateral disengagement plan marked a major policy change for the United States. His letter to Sharon formally drops all pretense of the United States serving as impartial mediator of a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians and instead constitutes official U.S. acceptance of Israel’s positions on such final status issues as Jerusalem, borders, settlements, and refugees. In his letter, Bush also pledged to block any alternative peace initiatives (including presumably the Geneva Initiative; see Special Doc. in JPS 130).

The extent of the president’s endorsement of the plan is perhaps best expressed in a declaration he made to a Washington audience on 21 April: “In my judgment, the whole world should have said, ‘Thank you, Ariel. Now we have a chance to begin the construction of a peaceful Palestinian state.”