Even professional pessimists didn't expect the Israel Defense Forces to enter Palestinian Authority territory in the Gaza Strip even before the disengagement plan removed them from there. What do these Palestinians want from our lives? Here comes a prime minister, and from the right at that, and gives them the entire Strip as a gift, with a small bonus in the West Bank, and instead of sending him flowers, they send him mortar shells. Doesn't he have enough problems at home, with Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and settler leader Bentzi Lieberman? After all, nothing is being asked of them. Only that they sit quietly and let the IDF beat their mortal enemies, the settlers. If PA Chairman Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) is not capable of controlling Hamas before the IDF leaves the Strip, what will happen after we leave?
In July 2005, five years after the Camp David summit, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is contributing a new chapter to the fictional series "We gave them everything and they repaid us with violence." As in the previous chapter, which was the product of Ehud Barak's imagination, in the disengagement story, too, everything is simple: We are the good guys and they are the bad guys. Even the solution is the same: an iron hand, a fence, border adjustments and unilateral annexation. Only the heroes have changed. Instead of the late PA chair Yasser Arafat, who played the role of the man who didn't want peace, we have Abu Mazen in the role of the man who cannot deliver the goods. The shoes of Barak, who suggested dividing Jerusalem and got terror, are being filled by Sharon - who decided to withdraw from Gaza and got Qassam rockets.
The two chapters are characterized by an attempt by Israeli politicians to shape reality according to their measurements and solutions. Talented marketing experts such as Brigadier General (res.) Eival Giladi, who received the impressive title of "director of the strategic coordination staff in the Prime Minister's Office," are explaining the "reality" and the solution to broad market sectors in Israel and the world. Giladi claims that the Palestinian leadership "is not ripe for a genuine political process," and therefore, until the Palestinians become ripe, there is no escaping unilateral solutions.
Sounds convincing, doesn't it?
"Genuine" was and has remained the key word. In fact, Arafat was not "ripe" for a peace agreement that was not based on the 1967 borders, with mutual border adjustments, sovereignty over the Temple Mount and a consensual solution to the refugee problem. For a territorial compromise a la Camp David 2000 (88 percent of the West Bank, an exchange of territories according to a ratio of 1:9), Arafat was not willing to declare war on his opposition. Afterward he lost control of the situation, and the results are written on thousands of gravestones. Abu Mazen is not "ripe" for a political process whose aim is to annex 40 percent of the West Bank to Israel, including the Jordan Valley, to build a wall in the heart of East Jerusalem, and to release Israel from a discussion of the refugee issue.
Israel is even less "ripe" than the Palestinians for a "genuine" political process, of the kind that will require evacuating 50,000 to 60,000 settlers from their homes, dividing Jerusalem and acknowledging a certain responsibility for the refugee problem. The distance between Sharon's Jerusalem and the Bill Clinton outline, the Taba understandings and the Geneva agreements (which proposed an arrangement based on the 1967 lines), is greater than the distance between Ramallah and a permanent status agreement between two sovereign countries: Only last week Abu Mazen said in an interview with Dubai television that the time has come for the host countries to grant citizenship to the Palestinian refugees in their territory (although he mentioned that this would not undermine the right of return).
Anyone for whom East Jerusalem is forever outside the area of "a genuine political process," should not expect a Palestinian "Altalena." [This ship brought weapons for the right-wing pre-state Irgun underground, and was shelled by the nascent Israeli army in June, 1948, killing 16]. Anyone who insists on maintaining control of entry and exit from Gaza will be forced to enter and leave there himself in order to maintain order. Nevertheless, so that we are all spared more bloodshed and another chapter in the pack-of-lies series, let us hope that the Palestinians stop shooting. Only that way is there a chance that the disengagement will be a "genuine" end to the occupation in the Gaza Strip. That way, everyone will know that in the rest of the territories, the occupation is "genuinely" continuing.
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