Dr. Uzi Arad: Disengagement Whetted World´s Appetite

Dr. Uzi Arad claims that the Disengagement has stimulated heightened expectations from both the Americans and the Palestinian Authority for further unilateral Israeli withdrawals.

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Ezra HaLevi, | updated: 07:37


Arad, who heads the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center, said in an interview with Arutz-7 that, "The Palestinian appetite has been awakened [by the Disengagement], and they see the evacuation of Gaza as a 'minimal advance' preceding the withdrawal from the entire Judea and Samaria."

The professor and seasoned strategist, who founded and chairs the annual Herzliya Conference where Prime Minister Ariel Sharon originally unveiled his Disengagement Plan, also says that the Disengagement has weakened Israel's bargaining position vis-a-vis the United States. He says that the unilateral steps taken while receiving nothing in return have undermined the previous Israeli position of "no movement without an achievement" - inviting American pressure for continued withdrawals. Dr. Arad does not even think that Israel will be given a grace period before being pressured from all sides to implement the next withdrawal. He cited the words of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was already saying "It can not be Gaza only" immediately after the withdrawal began.

The Road Map, according to Dr. Arad, which preceded the Disengagement Plan, placed the burden of action against terror upon the Palestinian Authority and very little pressure upon Israel, since Israel was not required to destroy communities until the PA fulfilled its requirements. "As long as they did not fulfill their obligations - and they not only didn't, but promised they wouldn't - there was basically no formal requirement for Israel to do anything. When we moved the Road Map aside, however, and said we were prepared to carry out a one-sided, unconditional withdrawal, including settlements, we removed the pressure from the Palestinians and placed it upon us."

The next step, says Dr. Arad, is that the Quartet countries will meet in September and begin to put pressure on Israel to continue the withdrawals. It is possible they will delay the pressure until after Israeli elections, he says, but immediately thereafter they will demand "a pound of flesh." Arad added that although Sharon now claims that he is returning to the Road Map, and it is upon the PA to take action against terrorism, the Quartet will claim that he has "cut off the branch upon which he sits, by proving that he is able to take action when they do not."

As far as American pressure is concerned, Dr. Arad says that because of the war in Iraq, the US is under intense pressure to prove to the Arab world that they are acting in the Israeli arena and successfully extracting Israeli concessions. The current process, though, he fears, has merely whetted the Arab world's appetite.