Whenever a Palestinian leader or entity declares that for the sake of peace there is no choice but to forfeit the right of return, there is someone who calls them to task for perpetuating the displacement of the residents of Sheikh Munis (Ramat Aviv Gimmel) and Beit Mazmil (Kiryat Hayovel in Jerusalem) from their homes. It is virtually assured that a column will appear in one of the next day's newspapers in East Jerusalem, penned by a national-religious Palestinian thinker, more or less in this vein:
"The Palestinian movement is not authorized to uproot Palestinians from Palestinian lands. If it did so - there would be no Palestine. The decision to uproot is a symptom of self-destruction. We, whose have not been deterred by thousands of tank shells, hundreds of demolished buildings, uprooted orchards and appropriated lands - will certainly not be deterred by a prison cell. As far as we are concerned - and let all those who seek to harm us be forewarned - there can be no compromise on the struggle against the inhumane and anti-Palestinian laws to uproot us, which run counter to the values, beliefs and laws by virtue of which, and on the foundation of which, Palestine will be founded."
These lines, with the appropriate changes (instead of Israel - Palestine; instead of anti-Zionist - anti-Palestinian; instead of Qassams - shells, etc.) are taken from last week's column in these pages by Israel Harel ("Not a refusal to serve - a rupture," December 23). Harel, a founder of Gush Emunim, went easy on his readers. He drew the boundaries of the arena of conflict over disengagement. This arena is not governed by the ordinary rules of the game that are accepted by the majority of the Israeli and Palestinian publics. In this struggle - "over the roots of the right to existence" in all areas of the Land of Israel/Palestine - there is no room for two national movements, and no reason to concede a single square inch.
Harel and his colleagues do not question the democratic process by which the decision to evacuate the settlements in the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria was reached. At the moment of truth, they do not hide behind the demand to bring disengagement to a referendum, nor do they warn of the security danger or the diplomatic wisdom of withdrawal without an agreement. Harel asserts that the State of Israel "is not authorized" to evacuate even a single Jew from the "Land of Israel," that is, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Which means that even a majority of 99 percent of Israeli citizens could not authorize the disengagement.
No peace agreement, nor any other agreement that would include full demilitarization of the territories, would satisfy those Jews who believe that God left the Land of Israel exclusively to the Jewish people. In their opinion, "uprooting" is an act of heresy, going against the will of God and therefore what difference does it make if the transgression was approved in Knesset or by referendum?
Disengagement refuseniks are not the mirror image of military service refuseniks, but rather of the Hamas clerics. Both groups espouse a formula of "territory for peace," according to which the other will concede sovereignty in all of the territories and in exchange, will be allowed to live in peace, be it as a minority or as a majority, in the Land of Israel, or in Greater Palestine.
The obsessive highlighting of the danger of the "rupture in the people" (or the "unity of the people," as the prime minister put it in his Herzliya speech), transformed the disengagement plan into a dispute between right and left. As if none of this had anything to do with Palestinians, or might have any effect on the situation on the other side of the Green Line. What will happen there if the settlers are able to realize their threat to stop the evacuation with their bodies? Or if it develops that the Israeli government is unable to evacuate even the Gaza Strip? What reason would the Palestinian Authority have to stop the fighters against the occupation in Nablus? A victory by the Jewish all-or-nothing people would be a great day for the Muslim all-or-nothing people.
The disengagement plan has already made an important contribution to peace between Israel and Palestinians. The response of the settlers to the intention to evacuate a handful of settlements in the Gaza Strip, which subsist on Thai labor, and four shriveled settlements in Samaria, has pulled the thin veneer from the hard nut that is the settlers. Let every Jewish mother and every Israeli father who are sending their children to defend a settlement know that they have raised them to fight in a war commanded in God's name.
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