There Is No Coin Under the Cup

It is an old and annoying trick: Three cups stand on a table and the observer has to guess under which one the coin will end up after the prestidigitator moves them around. The innocent observer hardly ever succeeds in guessing correctly. This is the feeling that accompanies Eival Giladi's fluent, swift and almost acrobatic analysis of the Israel Defense Forces' plan for disengagement from Gaza.

Giladi has a long title: director of the strategic coordination staff in the Prime Minister's Office. However, he articulated the disengagement plan, though not under its popular name, back when he served as the head of the IDF Strategic Planning unit. Underlying the idea, he explained in an interview on the "London and Kirschenbaum" current events program on Channel 10, lie two assumptions: Peace will not bring security, as had been assumed by the Oslo agreement, because the Palestinian leadership, and especially the leadership that was headed by Yasser Arafat and the current leadership under Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), was not and is not ripe for a true peace process. The second assumption holds that it is impossible to reach a final status agreement in a single stroke and it is necessary to create a common dynamic. The meaning of this dynamic is that Israel moves and its move causes the Palestinians to move. Hence the necessity to invent a unilateral plan that will serve as a towing hook to pull along the Palestinians.

Ostensibly, captivating assumptions and a brilliant plan of action. Freely translated, the plan is aimed at bypassing the Palestinian leadership, taking in Ehud Barak's plan of "we are here and they are there," showing Israel as an initiator and not a stubborn refuser of peace and forcing the Palestinians to react.

But it is exactly here that the trick lies. Anyone who says that the Palestinian leadership is not ripe for a peace process cannot expect that this same leadership will respond to the unilateral plan, and anyone one who believes that a peace plan cannot be accomplished in a single stroke cannot succeed when he does not explain what the next strokes are.

Within this jumble of working assumptions is missing another statement that is undisputed: The unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip would not have happened had it not been for the Palestinians' fighting and terror attacks. The colorful cellophane that is now wrapping the IDF withdrawal cannot conceal the reality in which terror attacks plus the protection of 7,500 Jewish settlers, plus escort services for kindergarten children, plus the fear of the war creeping into the territory of Israel are what underlies the plan and not some inspiration that wants to get a peace process started.

Anyone who nevertheless insists on picking out the political cup as the one beneath which lies the coin must ask himself why only four Jewish settlements in Samaria are part of the evacuation plan and not at least another 30 settlements with similar geographic status. People who drive in the southern Hebron hills understand the reference. And anyone who still doubts that this is a purely military move that has nothing to do with a vision of peace must examine why Israel is continuing to insist on not connecting the withdrawal from Gaza to the road map, and why all the contacts with the Palestinians avoid the term "negotiations" as though it were the plague and make do with the description "coordination."

These semantics are of huge importance, as those who preferred the term "disengagement" to the term "retreat" well know. The retreat from Gaza is essential in order to shorten the line of the Israeli border and it is an historic turning point in the ideology of the Greater Land of Israel. It is not a substitute for a diplomatic solution because it does not include a proposal for the day after.

The government is not hanging any sign on the scaffolding of Gaza that says "Here a peace plan will be constructed." This is because after the withdrawal will come the stage of licking the wounds, magnifying the loss until it becomes the destruction of the Third Temple, and in a situation like that how is it possible to talk about another withdrawal and concessions? After all, we have "given" Gaza, "at our own initiative." The answer to this can be, of course, that now there is no need to talk about this, that the plan exists but let's get safely through the retreat from Gaza first, yet for some reason, the feeling is that there is no coin under the cup.