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Radicals are hijacking Mideast peace process

Sharon's attempts at peace in the Mideast are being thwarted by both Israeli and Palestinian radicals who are against progress

After Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced that he would dismantle all settlements in the Gaza Strip, both sides went ballistic. First, Sharon’s own Likud Party rejected the effort in a party vote fearing it would be “giving in to the terrorists.” And now the far right-wingers have taken to the streets over land that is of little consequence to Israel as a nation, where 7,500 Jewish settlers live amongst 1.2 million Palestinians.

But this represents the majority of Israelis: One hundred and twenty thousand showed up to urge the immediate withdrawal from Gaza. Almost 80 percent of Israelis support Sharon’s pullout. It’s time for the Israeli government to represent its people, not the fringe settlers, many of whom came from Brooklyn to wreak havoc on the process.

With that said, unfortunately, there have been no large Palestinian support protests and no leading Palestinians were crediting Sharon before the vote that could now end his political career. Only condemnation came from Palestinian leaders who have said the proposal doesn’t go far enough, that it will legitimize Israel remaining in the West Bank settlements.

It’s like when some tobacco people talked about creating a cigarette that would automatically burn itself out to avoid fire hazards. Rather than log the effort, many anti-tobacco folks denounced the idea as just another effort to sell cigarettes. Well, maybe, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea. Israel getting out of Gaza is a good start. It’s good for Israel, good for the Palestinians and bad for those who don’t really want to see any progress in the region, and it seems they still hold many of the cards.

Dan Abrams is the host of 'The Abrams Report.' The show airs weeknights, 6 p.m. ET on MSNBC.