"Everyone empathizes with what the Israelis are facing, [But] it cannot be Gaza only." So spoke Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, presumably articulating Bush administration policy. She does not, in this interview with the New York Times, further explain her meaning, but one can readily guess that she wishes the Israeli government to withdraw its civilians and soldiers first from the West Bank and – who knows? – some day from the Golan Heights.
By forcible removing thousands of his own citizens, Sharon has established an important precedent and one wonders how he or future Israeli leaders can defy demands for "disengagement," perhaps under U.S. or international pressure. (August 18, 2005)
Aug. 21, 2005 update: At least one Israeli official, Health Minister Danny Naveh of the Likud party, has said he wants the Sharon government to demand this statement by Condoleezza Rice.
Aug. 27, 2005 update: For the correction to the above quotation, see "1.378 Words Later – Or, How to Mangle an Interview with the Secretary of State."
Aug. 28, 2005 update: Condoleezza Rice did not portray the Gaza withdrawal as a model for future Israeli retreats, but the European Union envoy to the Middle East, Mark Otte, did. He told Al-Quds "Our position regarding the West Bank and east Jerusalem is identical - they are occupied territories."