…On Tuesday, a new morning dawned on Israel. Eyal Arad spoke at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. Arad is a real renaissance man: He owns a thriving PR firm, and is also the prime minister’s political adviser, both an associate and a spokesman. This time, he ventured into foreign policy. If the stalemate [with the Palestinians] continues, he said, disengagement may become a strategy. Israel will determine its borders on its own.
I am speaking my personal opinion, said Arad. Nevertheless, bureaus stirred, foreign ministries buzzed, announcements were issued, messages were sent. When an associate suddenly voices a personal opinion, there are two possibilities: Either the prime minister wished to express his innermost thoughts through him, or else the ego has gone to the associate’s head.
Sharon made a commitment not long ago that disengagement is the last unilateral move that his government is making. If there is another move, it will be made within an agreement. This is what he told his voters and this is what he told President Bush.
Yet Eyal Arad said the opposite, and now the diplomats have to rewrite their dispatches.
Sharon often plays the part of the oracle: He points at one trend, and at the same time hints at the opposite trend. This was the case when the disengagement plan was first being prepared. This was the case, if you will, in front of the silent microphone at the Likud Central Committee. Some interpreted his poker face as embarrassment. Others interpreted it as a victory smile. Now the associates, other associates, say that Sharon is angry with Arad. No, he has not spoken with him, but he made sure to convey the message to him.
On Wednesday, Director of IDF Military Intelligence Maj. Gen. Aharon (Farkash) Zeevi spoke at another seminar in Tel Aviv University. “In the coming years,” the general said, “Israel will have to take more and more unilateral steps in order to advance its interests.” The diplomats hurried to their computers to rewrite their dispatches. If the director of Military Intelligence, the head of Israeli intelligence, says this, it is almost official.
The chief of staff heard about Farkash’s statements Wednesday night, in a conversation with a civilian. He was surprised and embarrassed. He did not think it was the IDF’s business to voice an opinion on such a topic. True, there are officers in the army who think that unilateral moves are an option, one of several options. But it is not on the agenda at present.