Yesterday I raised a similar question to Barel's (on the Wolfensohn forum), but gave a different answer: "It took the direct involvement of the American Secretary of State to settle a matter of slight complexity, the question of how to handle border crossings between Gaza, Egypt, and Israel. A tiny little bit of good will on the part of Israel, and an understanding that a good economy in Gaza is to Israel's benefit, would have obviated Condi Rice's results. But the Israeli government does not see any aspect of the conflict other than the military/security aspect. This is not a hopeful sign for the future." Indeed, there would have been no need for Israel to "save face", had there not been a very odd delay of over half a year in settling these issues. Why the delay on Israel's part? Israel, and Sharon, did not explain the motivation for leaving Gaza. A referendum on this issue was not held, so no real discussion took place. A Sharon advisor explained that Gaza was sacrificed in order to strengthen Israel's hold over much of the West Bank. Perhaps this is true, perhaps not. But clearly, Israel was not thinking of the Gaza disengagement in political terms focused on the PA. The disengagement was "unilateral", not negotiated - not involving diplomacy. Instead of thinking of Gaza as a model for a thriving Palestinian community, which will strenthen Abbas with respect to Hamas, and which will generate good will between Israel and Palestine, it was only the security aspect that mattered. Security is of course essential, but as the trivial details of the recent border crossing agreement show, there was little to really disagree on had the larger statesmanship issues been on the mind of the Israeli leaders. Sharon is yet to move to a diplomatic relationship with the Palestinians. And since he demands that first Hamas be dismantled, something the PA will not be able to do for quite some time (partly due to Sharon's weakening of it), one can expect, at best, some more unilateral move from Sharon, perhaps disengaging from additional areas of the West Bank. All this will be positive, but peace will only come when the Sharon era is over. Too bad for Sharon's legacy. A great warrior, a courageous man, but a non-statesman.
Syria foreign minister in Tehran for talks with Iran, Russia (Reuters)
from the article: And if Khaled Meshal wants to visit?