Flying in the Face of the Facts

The Roadmap, Oslo and UN Resolution 242 were all attempts to find a solution that the Arabs would accept. Sharon's disengagement plan is an attempt to find a solution the US will accept. They all involve a retreat by Israel from any idea of Israel retaining control of or sovereignty over Judea, Samaria and Gaza. They were and are premised on the idea that the Arab world will live in peace with Isr

Ted Belman,

Ted Belman
Ted Belman
PR
PM Sharon, in continuing to push for disengagement, is flying in the face of the facts. What are they?

1. Likud voted, by a margin of 60 to 40, against bringing Labour into the governing coalition.

2. There is no money allocated in the budget to pay for uprooting the settlers and the US has refused to pay for it

3. No financial model has been presented to the Knesset or to Israelis showing how disengagement saves money. But we are told of the high cost of building the trench and the high cost of redeployment of the IDF.

4. There is no security arrangement for Gaza that would prevent Gaza from becoming an armed camp or from attacking Israel after it withdrew. There is no doubt about it, Israel would be less secure. The rocket attacks will only increase.

5. It is far from certain that Israel will retain control of access to Gaza by land, sea or air.

6. Except for the letters from Bush, which suggested but failed to ensure that Israel could keep the settlements, the Bush Administration has continually taken the position that Israel must not enlarge the settlements and must dismantle certain settlements. They are against a "land grab" and are in favour of Israel trading something in exchange for the large settlement blocks.

7. Both America and Israel pay lip service to the Roadmap, notwithstanding that there is absolutely no evidence, in word or in deed, that the Arab countries or the "Palestinians" are willing to live up to what is required of them.

8. The construction of the fence has been discontinued because the Israeli government is caving into world pressure. The International Court of Justice said it was illegal, the High Court of Israel said it had to be less inconvenient to the Arabs and must not be a "land grab", the State Department is micro-managing where it will be built, the Vatican has also registered its objection to the proposed route - and the IDF said that the proposed new route renders Israel defenceless.

9. The rationale for the construction of the fence was that would save lives, which it has, but also that it would become a de-facto border, despite protestations to the contrary. This rationale can no longer be sustained. Also, the fence cannot be routed through the minefields of Jerusalem. It is just too problematic.

10. There is nothing unilateral about disengagement, as Israel has given the US a veto over everything Israel wants to do.

11. The insurgency in Iraq supported by Iran, Syria, Hezbullah, Al-Qaeda, Hamas and Yasser Arafat, among others, serves to underline that these same groups will not allow Israel a moment's peace or a permanent stay in the Middle East.

12. The US is preventing Israel from building the fence where it would serve to protect Ben-Gurion Airport or to include many major settlement blocks.

Disengagement, of which the fence is a part, is an attempt to create a more manageable situation for Israel for the long haul. Whether it will achieve this is far from certain. In fact, the contrary seems more probable. Disengagement doesn't save money because the trench, the fence, the IDF redeployment and the resettlement will cost billions. It doesn't make Israel more secure in the same way abandoning area A under Oslo didn't make Israel more secure. It doesn't ensure that Israel can keep parts of Judea and Samaria. It doesn't solve any of the problems associated with Jerusalem.

In fact, it doesn't solve anything.

The Roadmap, Oslo and UN Resolution 242 were all attempts to find a solution that the Arabs would accept. Sharon's disengagement plan is an attempt to find a solution the US will accept. They all involve a retreat by Israel from any idea of Israel retaining control of or sovereignty over Judea, Samaria and Gaza. They were and are premised on the idea that the Arab world will live in peace with Israel. But there is no sign of that. It is clear that the US has always tried to get Israel to disgorge almost all of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. They certainly oppose a "land grab," as Powell puts it.

Just as the status quo was better before we entered the Oslo Accords than after, so the status quo now is better than what disengagement will bring. Israel should not give up the control it now exercises, nor should it incur the costs that disengagement will entail, nor should it retreat from Gaza and parts of Samaria and Judea until there is a "New Middle East".

If Sharon wants Israel to retreat, the onus of proving that Israel will be better off is on him. He has failed miserably in satisfying this onus. If the US wants Israel to retreat, let it offer something worthwhile in return.

Instead, Israel should develop a different paradigm. National Union Knesset Member Benny Elon's plan is one such paradigm. It envisions the two-state solution as involving Jordan and Israel, rather than Palestine and Israel. To this end, Israel should abandon the Roadmap, destroy the remnants of Oslo and embrace the Jordanian solution.


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