JEWISH SETTLERS IN GAZA RESTLESS OVER
THE COMING FORCED WITHDRAWAL
By Asaf Romirowsky
In his book, The Revolt, former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin was confident that, despite opposing political beliefs during the British mandate, the Jews would never reach a point of civil war. As he wrote,
He held this belief to be true when he agreed to give back the Sinai Peninsula for peace with Egypt. And yet, Israelis still did not leave peacefully, and many left the country disappointed in Begin and his government.
In 1982, Ariel Sharon had to go down to Yamit and help remove the residents. Now he is asking many of those same people, more than 20 years later, to evacuate their homes and leave Gush Katif. Begin had an easier task than Sharon does today. As Israel's Prime Minister, Sharon is possibly facing the one scenario Begin thought would never occur among Jews. As he moves ahead with the disengagement from Gaza, Sharon himself admitted to an NBC interviewer, "The tension here, the atmosphere here looks like the eve of civil war." Moreover, Sharon's plan puts Israel's constitutional democracy to the ultimate test -- a constitutional democratic state forcing thousands of its own citizens to leave their lawful homes.
The Oslo Accords proved to the world that all the promises made by Yasir Arafat were just talk, with no real intention to resolve the situation between Israelis and Palestinians. And yet, Sharon is taking Israel back to the socalled "road map to peace" -- an outgrowth of that same program. To the naked eye, it would seem like Israel has overcome the latest intifada, and then Arafat's death created the right environment to cede Gaza to Abu Mazen's Palestinian Authority.
But have the rules of the game really changed that much since Arafat's death? If one looks at Abu Mazen's list of demands for peace, they have not changed since Arafat's tenure. He still is demanding a complete right of return for Palestinian refugees, Israel's complete withdrawal to the untenable pre-1967 borders, and making Jerusalem the Palestinian capital. Abu Mazen's "peace" is more means than end. Hence, Abu Mazen and the PA will be tested.
U.S. President George W. Bush vowed to defeat terrorism in an unprecedented global war. Part of that promise required that the Palestinians crack down on the radicals' in their midst. Yet, today, the PLO covenant still calls for the destruction of Israel by any means possible and still acts as the Palestinian constitution:
How is the disengagement furthering peace if the Palestinians' own constitution has not been changed to recognize Israel's right to exist? If there is no recognition, there is no compromise or solution.
In practice, security will be the bottom line. Can it be achieved? The basis for coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians depends, not only on rebuilding trust and acknowledgment between the two parties, but also on creating a secure environment, dismantling terrorist networks, reforming the media and education, and stopping weapons smuggling into Gaza and the West Bank. If we are to believe that Abu Mazen is sincere, he should make it clear now, though real actions and deeds.
Begin was right to say:
Sharon cannot know what tomorrow will bring, but, as someone who has fought in every war since Israel's establishment, the big question for him is how will these 100 days be used and will they create a concrete understanding between Israelis and Palestinians. At the same time, he must secure the foundations of freedom that make Israel the Jewish state that protects and provides security for Israeli citizens, and must not place such duties in the hands of Israel's enemies.
The Israeli-Arab Conflict
The Middle East & the Arabs
Radical Islam & Islamic Terrorism
War & Peace in the Real World
Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.
Osama bin Laden & the Islamist Declaration of War
Against the U.S.A. & Western Civilization
Islamist International Terrorism &
U.S. Intelligence Agencies
U.S. National Security Strategy
Asaf Romirowsky is a Campus Watch Associate Fellow for the Middle East Forum and the Israel Affairs Associate for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.
The foregoing article by Asaf Romirowsky was originally published in Tech Central Station, April 26, 2005, and can be found on the Internet website maintained by the Middle East Forum.
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