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Disengagement as a long term goal

Reader comment on item: "Today Gaza, Tomorrow Jerusalem"

Submitted by SteveGW (Australia), Aug 10, 2005 at 09:34

I think that Dr. Pipes is probably correct in his assessment of the likely effects of the withdrawal from Gaza, but that's probably not entirely a bad thing (from Israel's long term perspective.)

The mainstream of Israeli society doesn't want to hang on to the 1967 territories forever and realises that that would be fatal to Israeli democracy. They have tried to negotiate a settlement with the Arabs but the Arabs have proven time and again that they will not negotiate in good faith. The point of the 'disengagement' process is that the Israelis intend to impose whatever solution can be imposed which does not require having to trust the Arabs. Thus they will evacuate the territories that they never wanted, they will retain the territories that they (and they alone) judge to be vital for their national security - such as the Jordan Valley - and they will attempt to prevent the Arab-occupied territories from being able to damage them. The separation barrier and the Gaza evacuation are natural consequences of this strategy. Note that, as others have pointed out, if the Arab territories are to be treated as independent states then Israel is justified in making extremely harsh punitive strikes against them.

If the Arabs take the 'gift' of Gaza and redouble their efforts to destroy Israel through a campaign of terror then the resistance of the more dove-like elements of Israeli and international society to the completion of the disengagement plan will be undermined. If they do not, then that moderation may signal the possibility of an Arab entity developing in time which will be able to live alongside Israel, and the full disengagement will be unnecessary. Or merely a pause in the longer campaign.

My expectation for the middle future is for several practically independent Arab areas - Gaza, of course, and territories about Hebron and Ramallah. The Israelis to occupy the Jordan valley. Whether this is a stable configuration in the long run is quite a different matter, and I can see no good distant solution but many very bad ones.

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