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Sharon's folly - on balance, no

Reader comment on item: Ariel Sharon's Folly

Submitted by S.Brockwell (Australia), Apr 12, 2005 at 22:57

I was most surprised to see that I disagree with you on the above subject. It is a first.

I fully acknowledge the emboldening effect that the unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon had on the Arab-Muslim mind in 2000 - and its role in generating Intifada 2000 - and regard Oslo as nothing more than a damaging exercise in Israeli wishful thinking and naivete. There are limits to the relevance of the old adage: nothing ventured nothing gained. And Israel ventured with Oslo and lost out very badly.

Quite apart from the human cost, Oslo created an irreversible phenomenon in the West: every man and his dog now believes there is a country called "Palestine", just as there is a country called Tibet. After Oslo and the creation of the PA the mainstream Western media started referring to a place called "Palestine", eg The Economist ( if you look at issues of that newspaper in the 1980's and early 90's there was no reference to the contemporary existence of any " Palestine " ). Just as Jimmy Carter conferred legitimacy on the invented-for-the-specific-purpose-of-delegitimizing-Israel identity of "Palestinian" in the late 1970's by embracing the term, Oslo conferred legitimacy on the use of the term " Palestinian territories" and from there it was but a short seamless step to " Palestine ".

The Arabs will indeed see the vacating of Gaza by Israel as a victory, but just because one's opponents perceive a step as their victory doesn't mean you don't take it IF it is to your paramount advantage to do so. Is it truly in Israel's interests - long and short term - to maintain any sort of presence in Gaza? Strategic value: zilch. Isn't it better for Israel to wash her hands of a worthless overpopulated strip of sand dunes where Hamas rules the roost. And wait for the world to see how incompetently and venally the PA and Hamas govern Gaza and say ' told you so '. If nothing else the Gaza exercise puts the West Bank on the back-burner.

Perhaps Sharon's only error is that he has not stated something along the lines of : " Every time there is an attack on Israeli residents in the Gaza Strip, where the perpetrators are not dealt with by the PA to our satisfaction, we will postpone our withdrawal by six months." Such a proclamation should be made loud and clear in order to hammer home the point that Israel is not being driven out, Israel is departing voluntarily on its own terms because it doesn't need or want Gaza. Such postponement/s should be announced in specific terms: " We were scheduled to leave in [ July ] but now after [x] attack we're rescheduling that departure to [ January following ] IF, and only if, there is no repeat of such behaviour." Some might say: " But the Arabs will never stop their attacks and there could be a possibly endless stretch of six month postponements ". So be it. Eventually the lesson will be learned: if the PA wants sovereignty over Gaza, as it does ( because its not getting any of the West Bank until it proves itself in Gaza ), it will have to clamp down meaningfully and effectively on Gaza's terrorists.
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