"Disengagement Plan" Approved? Hardly

In a generation of fast sound bytes and instant news, neither proponents nor opponents seem to know what Ariel Sharon's "Disengagement Plan" is all about.

David Bedein,

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credit David Michael Cohen
In a generation of fast sound bytes and instant news, neither proponents nor opponents seem to know what Ariel Sharon's "Disengagement Plan" is all about.

Believe it or not, it is hard to find anyone who has read the plan.

What I have found from my intense coverage of the Knesset, Israel's parliament, is that most its members, reporters who cover the Knesset and even some key Israeli government ministers have not read the Sharon Plan.

Instead, people throughout Israel and throughout the world assume that the Sharon Plan only concerns whether Israelis should continue to live in the Katif district of Gaza, an agricultural area of 21 farming communities, and some seemingly distant Jewish communities in Northern Samaria, which is also known as the West Bank. Hence, the term "disengagement" bandied about by the press.

However, if anyone had bothered to read the Sharon Plan, then the reality of the Sharon Plan would unfold in an entirely different direction. For the Sharon Plan does anything but provide for disengagement.

Despite the premise in clause one of the Sharon Plan that there is "no Palestinian peace partner", the plan actually creates a process to empower the PLO. There are, in fact, 14 clauses of the Sharon Plan that strengthen every aspect of the PLO. This belies clause one that that there is "no reliable Palestinian partner".

While the premise of the Sharon Plan mandates that the Gaza Strip "be demilitarized and shall be devoid of weaponry", the Sharon Plan also provides "advice, assistance and training" to "the Palestinian security forces... by American, British, Egyptian, Jordanian or other experts, as agreed with Israel." The Sharon Plan completely ignores how military training of the PLO facilitated by Israel and the Western democracies was abused, in order to conduct a terror campaign against Israel in every part of the country for the past four years.

The Sharon Plan goes on to say that "Israel will be willing to consider the possibility of the establishment of a seaport and airport in the Gaza Strip, in accordance with arrangements to be agreed with Israel." The Sharon Plan obligates Israel to "provide water pipes, electricity, industrial zones, markets, employment and an industrial zone to sustain the Palestinian Arab economy of Gaza". The Sharon Plan mandates that "other existing arrangements, such as those relating to water and the electro-magnetic sphere, shall remain in force" while "economic arrangements currently in operation between Israel and the Palestinians shall, in the meantime, remain in force."

According to the Sharon Plan, these arrangements will include:

1. The entry of workers into Israel in accordance with the existing criteria;

2. The entry and exit of goods between the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Israel and abroad;

3. The monetary regime;

4. Tax and customs envelope arrangements; and

5. Postal and telecommunications arrangements.

Finally, the Sharon Plan envisions international support for the PLO, "in order to bring the Palestinians to implement in practice their obligations to combat terrorism and effect reforms, thus enabling the parties to return to the path of negotiation."

And if the PLO does not "implement in practice their obligations to combat terrorism"? The Sharon Plan provides no response to that possibility. The Sharon Plan does not provide even a minimal demand that the PLO not endorse the cold-blooded murder of Jews on the official media outlets of the PLO.

The way in which the official media of Palestinian Authority carried praise of the October 26th, 2004, Knesset approval of the Sharon Plan is indicative. In the words of Nabil Sha'ath, "May this be only one step in the liberation of all of Palestine." Meanwhile, Hamas spokesman Moshir Al-Masri declared that "the Knesset vote proves that the Hamas has forced the Zionist enemy to retreat."

To make a long story short, the Sharon Plan, far from being a plan of disengagement from the PLO, is nothing less than a program of empowerment for the PLO.

Since no one bothered to read the Sharon Plan, spin-masters were left in charge, to sell it as a "disengagement from Gaza" program. Ariel Sharon knows that the very mention of the word "withdrawal from Gaza" makes him very popular. And the opponents of the Sharon Plan fall right into the trap that Ariel Sharon has laid for the them, and scream loudly against "the Sharon Disengagement Plan from Gaza", earning the enmity of Israeli public opinion. Instead, what the opposition to Sharon should be doing now is educating the population of Israel as to the inherent dangers of the "PLO Empowerment Plan".

President Abe Lincoln once noted that you can "fool some of the people some of the time", but not "all of the people all of the time." This time, Prime Minister Sharon may have succeeded where President Lincoln failed.

"Disengagement"? Gee, it sounded so good. Just imagine if Ariel Sharon had tried to sell his plan as what it really is: aiding the PLO, which in the media mind-set, is Sharon's arch enemy.