Amidst the turmoil enveloping Israel due to Disengagement, one question remains unanswered - are the Jewish communities in Gaza and northern Samaria being expelled or evacuated?
David SingerDavid Singer is an Australian lawyer who is active in Zionist community organizations in that country. He founded the "Jordan is Palestine" Committee in 1979.
This is not a semantic question only, but has a vital bearing on the future of the sovereignty of those areas from which Israel proposes to disengage.
"Evacuation" indicates a temporary uprooting with the intention of returning when the emergency giving rise to the evacuation has subsided.
Thus, large population centres were evacuated during the terrible tsunami earlier this year, or Londoners were evacuated during the wartime blitz by the Germans in World War II. No one ever suggested they would not be allowed to return to their homes after the crisis had ended.
"Expulsion", on the other hand, indicates something far more permanent. A child expelled from a school has no chance of returning to that school. A diplomat expelled from a country will never be accepted back in that country.
Strangely, the language used by Israel's government speaks of "evacuation", whilst the language used by the opposition to Disengagement speaks of "expulsion".
Ariel Sharon needs to urgently explain whether Israel still maintains its claim to sovereignty in those areas from which it is currently removing Jewish communities, or whether its disengagement amounts to a ceding of all claims of sovereignty to those areas it is leaving.
Based on the use of the word "evacuation", it would appear that Israel is not ceding its claims, which are well grounded in international law arising from the Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the United Nations Charter. Israel can certainly choose to cede those claims, but Ariel Sharon has not mentioned this "c" word, to my knowledge.
One can envisage an Israeli return to Gaza and northern Samaria, should the Palestinians carry out their threats to continue the armed struggle all the way to Jerusalem. Israel's response could be disastrous for the Palestinians and wipe out whatever political or territorial gains they may make as a result of Israel's initial withdrawal.
If these circumstances arose, would Sharon then be able to claim sovereignty, or was the initial disengagement a ceding of all claims to any parts of the areas from which withdrawal took place?
Sharon would do well to clarify what this Disengagement means, because it could have an important bearing on the Road Map so earnestly espoused by the USA, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations.
By continuing to use the word "evacuation" to describe its actions, Israel seems to be making it very clear that if the Palestinians don't embark on the Road Map, and instead continue to use violence and incitement to achieve their goal of an independent state, the removal of the Jewish communities will be only temporary. Israel will return in force and claim sovereignty of such parts of the areas vacated as it deems in its national interest.
Sharon continues to play his cards close to the chest.
Israelis, and indeed the whole world , should be taken into Sharon's confidence on this very vital issue.