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Settlement freeze is a hopeful sign


The Israel government's announcement that, under pressure from the USA ,they will suspend plans to connect Maale Adumin with Jerusalem by the construction of additional housing units, is good news.

It has become abundantly plain, since the unilateral evacuation of Jews from Gaza, that Sharon wishes to repeat the unilateral "evacuation" ploy in the West Bank. To get into position for such a move, he has to gather the major settlements into an enclave that can be included into Israel by putting up the Fence/Wall around them. The new residences planned by Sharon are part of this goal. Once he has the most desired Jewish settlements safely behind the wall/fence, Sharon can call for the evacuation of West Bank Jews who live outside the wall/fence. When this occurs, Israel can maintain that they have unilaterally implemented the two state solution. Palestinians control the area of the West Bank except for those portions which are a part of Israel by virtue of being behind the fence/wall, as well as Gaza. All territories behind the wall are Israeli. End of story. No need for meetings and confrontations between Israelis and Palestinians!

Will this bring peace? I think not. This "solution" deprives the Palestinians of sizable tracts of land that they consider part of their hegemony. It also negates the "right of return" which no Israeli government will be able to accede to, but which could have been used by the Palestinians in negotiations.

My main concern, however, goes much deeper. Even with the acquisition of the West Bank and Gaza I do not see Palestine succeeding as an independent state. They will need much help. The UN will supply some help. The Arab League, frustrated by not succeeding in destroying Israel will probably not help Palestine "make it". A frustrated Palestine can become a very dangerous foe of Israel . In spite of the wall/fence, the armed forces of the Palestinians will be very close to major Israeli citizen concentrations. The Palestinians will be free to invite other Arab states to bring in their armies in support of Palestine. The resulting warfare could be extremely devastating for both sides. The situation is far more acute for Israel. If they defeat the Arabs, the Palestinians will be around to fight again another day.

For Israel, there is no "another day". Once defeated the dream of a Jewish homeland is gone!

Recognizing this dilemma, Israel must take a different stance vis-a-vis Palestine. They have to establish the Middle East as a friendly territory, where Israeli and Palestinians can live side by side working together to establish two successful economies with opportunities for success on both sides. Sharon is primarily a militarist. He makes a great leader when war is inevitable. However, he is not one to arrive at a give-and-take solution. All his actions are aimed at a victory over the enemy. It appears that he may have been successful in his approach with the unilateral departure from Gaza. That is not what is needed now. The next phase must be a cooperative effort for two "successful" states, where the two states carry out shared or complementary programs for the mutual benefit of both.

The suspension of the new Israeli settlement plan is a step in the right direction.

Elchanan Ross

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000376.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

by AROSS @ 10:35 AM CST [Link]


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Replies: 2 comments

I know this is not a popular issue but if Israel do not retreat to the Green Line the result will be that Palestinians will say (correctly) that part of their territory is still occupied. Since Israel is not going to evacuate e.g. Mont Scopus it is clear that unilateral pullout will not have in West Bank the salvific effect that has had in Gaza. If peace is the goal, an agreement is needed and giving the bargaining chips for free is not a good idea.

In my opinion, now is clear that Sharon is preparing Israel for a century of war, following a turtle policy of puting the legs inside the shell and wait the enemy to get tired. It is not a peaceful idea but it is better than the "transfer". Palestinians will have a chance if they manage to structure themselves and liquidate foreing interference. Sharon thinks they will not, but I hope they will because I love happy ends.

Posted by Aleph @ 09/05/2005 11:07 PM CST

In large part you are right that if Israel does not withdraw to the Green Line then they will claim that part of Palestine remains occupied. However given their former policies, and the doubts about the new ones, is there any reason to think that popular sentiment among the Palestinians will accept Israel if it retreats to the Green Line. For Israel surely occupies Palestine, as does Jordan, denying the "rightful heirs to the land" from exercising their control of it.
Sharon's policies are an interesting demonstration of power and statesmanship (I personally do not find him an attractive politician, "Arik the King") He has managed to disengage the IDF from the occupation of Gaza entirely on his own terms, and largely without even the merest reference to the Palestinians. He has contained and dismissed the Settlers. He has demonstrated to the world that he intends to enable the creation of a sustainable Palestine, if the Paelstinians so desire it as neighbours of Israel. He has reminded the Palestinians very clearly of how weak they actually are.
Certainly Sharon will make preparations for a century of war and that is entirely rational, the Middle east is rather volatile and will remain so for a number of generations.
Consider this - while Israel was in occupation of Gaza, it had to act as an occupying force. Now that it has withdrawn, it is free to respond to any vuiolent act in virtually whatever manner it chooses. A very scary prospect!

Posted by Rod Davies @ 09/08/2005 10:52 PM CST

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