The signing of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty came to a halt a number of times because Israel insisted that the Sinai Peninsula be demilitarized and that U.S. forces be stationed between the Egyptian army, most of which was not to cross the Suez Canal, and the Israel Defense Forces. Egypt, which viewed these conditions as an insult and a blow to its sovereignty, refused. Only after heavy pressure from former U.S. president Jimmy Carter did Anwar Sadat agree to demilitarization.
Now Ariel Sharon comes along and, among the other foolish acts that his feverish brain constantly churns out, invites the Egyptian army back into Gaza.
Many of the Israelis who approve of withdrawal at any price are applauding. Once more, the illusion surfaces - as it did on the eve of the insertion of Arafat's 40,000 Trojan horses into the West Bank and Gaza - that someone will deal with terror, without the intervention of B'Tselem and the High Court of Justice and, of course, with no need for targeted killings.
The Egyptians, lovers of Zion that they are, will chase Qassam rockets, deal in our stead with Hamas, and absorb the blows of Hezbollah and al-Qaida, some of whose operatives have already infiltrated the Gaza Strip, and others who will arrive after Israel can no longer prevent them from doing so.
Not surprisingly, the objection of the Egyptians to a return to Gaza is a trick to elicit further courting. And when, in spite of what Gaza has been through in the last 37 years, they show an interest, Israel should start to worry - among other reasons, because it is certain Israel will pay a price; for example, the abolishment of the article in the peace treaty prohibiting the presence of Egyptian troops in the Sinai.
Egyptian troops, the IDF and the Shin Bet security service warn, will not prevent the firing of rockets at the Negev. On the other hand, they will prevent Israel from defending itself. Because if Israel enters Beit Hanun or carries out a targeted killing from the air, it will risk a clash with the Egyptian army and endanger the peace. And the blame will fall, as it always does, on Israel.
Israel is not the only one not to understand this step of Sharon's, like so many others recently. It raised eyebrows in the administration that Sharon so much wants to please: Washington, too, has grave doubts about Sharon's latest actions, expressed recently by Secretary of State Colin Powell, who called unilateral withdrawal a plan with more questions than answers.
When, in almost every area that Sharon touches - two clear examples being the Tennenbaum affair and his brutal, incomprehensible attack on the chief of staff - the earth shakes and the results could be fatal, it is time to separate the prime minister from his office.
The National Union and the National Religious Party must therefore leave the coalition - and not just for the sake of the settlements in the Katif Bloc or of preventing the Egyptian army from entering northern Sinai. No, the main responsibility of these parties is to save the people and the state from being punished by this complicated and bullying man. It is the primary responsibility of all the Zionist parties, but all the more so of these two. They must remove the keystone from this government and thus stop its peculiar moves.
This is certainly the job of that element of the Likud, in quality and quantity, that is quite substantial and is gazing yearningly at Sharon's illogical and pointless behavior. They must now call out: The emperor has no clothes. If they do so, there will be no need for elections and the government, under a different prime minister, will remain in their hands.
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