Having won an election and formed a government it might have been expected of Ariel Sharon that he would ease his policy of disproportionate response to Palestinian suicide attacks, shelling of settlements and stone–throwing by children. Instead he is persisting with the already discredited idea that there is a military solution to the dispute with the Palestinians. He is also exacerbating the problem of the illegal settlements by moving his military into territories previously returned to the Palestinian Authority as part of the Oslo peace process. These and other actions are reducing the Palestinians to Third World status. According to the World Bank's director for the West Bank and Gaza, 60 per cent of Palestinians now live below the $2–a–day poverty line, employment exceeds 50 per cent and national income has declined dramatically. In many parts of their land Palestinians are prevented by the Israeli military presence from reaching their olive trees and wheatfields and cannot graze their goats; some villages are completely cut off and in others curfews require everyone to remain indoors from 6pm. A report by the UN representative in the region concluded: “The Palestinian economy is devastated. The public sector is on life support. The private sector is rapidly deteriorating. The population's sources of livelihood are disappearing.” Why cannot Mr Sharon see that his military solutions are not working, and will not work, because they are punishing a whole people for the actions of a very few highly–motivated activists whose determination increases with each Israeli move against them?


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