What Will "Disengagement" Accomplish?

Assuming Sharon is able to transfer the last Israeli from Gaza, what will be the situation the morning after?

Ted Belman,

OpEds Ted Belman
Ted Belman
Assuming Sharon is able to transfer the last Israeli from Gaza, what will be the situation the morning after?

Gaza will be a hornet's nest of terrorist factions vying for power. As DEBKA, the internet news and analysis site, points out, no outside force will be willing or able to install anything remotely resembling law and order.

The PLO Negotiations Affairs Department makes the case for Israel still being considered by international law as the occupying power. The report makes fascinating reading.

The term "occupation" describes a regime of control over territory and population by a foreign sovereign's military. When a foreign sovereign occupies land, international law obligates that sovereign to uphold basic standards to protect both the population under its control and the land on which that population lives.

The Hague Regulations of 1907 set forth the basic legal standard: "Territory is occupied when it has actually been placed under the authority of the hostile army. The occupation only extends to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised.

The IDF supports this conclusion. I submit that it is much more complicated than this.

Obviously, war precedes belligerent occupation. Thus, it is necessary to determine when the war ends and belligerent occupation begins. To shed light on this question, we should look at a legal decision cited in the aforementioned PA report as to when it ends.

In the Hostages Case, the Nuremberg Tribunal expounded upon the Hague Regulations' basic definition of occupation in order to ascertain when occupation ends. It held that "[t]he test for application of the legal regime of occupation is not whether the occupying power fails to exercise effective control over the territory, but whether it has the ability to exercise such power."

So the question becomes, does Israel have the ability to exercise effective control? In other words, does Israel have the ability to subdue the terrorists and maintain law and order? I submit not; at least, not without going to war, as the US is doing in Iraq. This would entail much death and destruction. But if Israel were to attempt this, the world will complain that it is using excessive force and is not sufficiently protective of the Palestinian civil and human rights. In effect, international law would be argued to conclude that Israel has the ability to exercise effective control, but would also be argued to inhibit Israel from doing so.

The PA report claims that "[?] one of the primary motivations behind the Gaza Disengagement Plan is to 'dump' 1.3 million non-Jews while illegally confiscating as much Palestinian land in the West Bank as possible."

And I agree; except for the description "illegally confiscating".

Other motivations alluded to by Ariel Sharon, including increased security and less pressure to make concessions, are wishful thinking, just as is the idea that "disengagement" will freeze the peace process. The opposite will be the case.

As for the primary motivation above set out, I ask you: how will Israel have "dumped the 1.3 million non-Jews"? Since Israel will still be considered the occupier, it is doubtful to say the least, that Israel will have accomplished even that.

As for whether it will have strengthened Israel's hold on major settlement blocks, the answer is far from certain. America is not yet fully committed to this. Remember that the letters exchanged with George Bush merely state that "it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949," and that "...the settling of Palestinian refugees [will be] there (Palestine), rather than in Israel."

I would point out that what is "unrealistic" doesn't have much currency in the world when it comes to Israel. The all-important words "all" or "the" don't precede "Palestinian refugees," as they didn't proceed "territories" to be relinquished according to United Nations Resolution 242. The European Union, meanwhile, recently reaffirmed its intention to pressure Israel to go back to the Green Line.

So what, in effect, will disengagement accomplish? One thing for sure is that it will leave Gaza Juderein. It will also succeed in traumatizing Israel, the effects of which we can only imagine. Similarly, it will energize the Arabs to reinforce their post-Six-Day-War Khartoum Declaration of "no negotiations, no recognition and no peace."

For there to be any chance of success in peacemaking, the Quartet, or parts thereof, must take responsibility for establishing a responsible government in Gaza and ending the attacks - just as the US is doing in Iraq.

Where there is a will there is a way. So far, the Quartet has talked the talk, but not walked the walk.