Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Ran HaCohen on Sharon's surprising announcement to evacuate settlers from the Gaza strip: "Official Palestinian sources dismissed Sharon's announcement with disbelief. On the one hand, their mistrust is understandable: Sharon has a lifelong reputation of lying, as his superiors and colleagues have been saying for decades... [on the other] a unilateral Israeli withdrawal would weaken the PA even further: after all, the PA has a record of corruption, it is ineffective in supplying welfare, education and health services, and it cannot give any sense of security against the overwhelmingly superior Israeli military might. If even its function as negotiator becomes superfluous, one may rightly wonder what's the use of the PA at all."

"An astonishing reaction comes from Yossi Beilin, considered to be the left-end of the Zionist peace camp. Beilin objects to Sharon's unilateral withdrawal, claiming there is no reason to leave Gaza without getting anything in return. It is indeed revealing to see that for Beilin, the settlements in Gaza are not a moral stain, a financial burden and a military headache that Israel should get rid of, but a precious asset that should be traded for some worthy "rewards": a precise echo of similar views regularly aired by former PM Ehud Barak, the right-wing extremist who exploded the Oslo process, initiated the Intifada and destroyed the Israeli peace camp from within, to whom Beilin dedicated his last book."

"Barak's views are based on his inherent objection to peace, Beilin's motivation is different: He has a vested interest (politically, and, broadly speaking, also financially) in the well-being of the PA, which is in fact his partner for the Geneva Accords. For Beilin, relieving 1,5 million Palestinians in Gaza of the abusive presence of Israeli settlers and military is not a good idea for Beilin, if its price might be weakening his partners in the corrupted PA."

"Note that Sharon has been talking all along of "moving" settlements, not dismantling them. The difference is now becoming clear: Sharon's plan is to move whole settlements from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank... Almost all the Gaza settlements where created by Sharon following the Israeli withdrawal from Sinai in 1982; many settlers moved there from Sinai. Now they should be moved elsewhere; they were informed about it exclusively by the Israeli media."

"It's the same Israeli media, by the way, which is already shedding tears about the poor Gaza settlers to be "uprooted" for generous compensations, totally blind to the fact that they live amongst 1,5 million Palestinians, 70% of whom are refugees who were violently uprooted from their land within Israel, and trapped in the most densely populated region on earth with not a cent of compensation."

"Don't err in illusions: no one intends to make Gaza a Palestinian State, no one even claims to. Gaza has a very different function. As senior Israeli journalist Nahum Barnea wrote a few years ago, Gaza is Israel's penal colony, its "devil island, Alcatraz" (quoted by Tanya Reinhart). Even now, alleged "terrorists" and their relatives from the West Bank are regularly deported to Gaza, which is surrounded with electric fences, its access to the sea blocked by the Israeli navy, and is thus completely sealed off the outside world. Sharon intends to keep a 100 meter strip along the Egyptian border (where the army has been systematically destroying all Palestinian houses), to make sure Alcatraz is fully contained."

No comments: