Tuesday, December 27, 2005

If what Binyamin Nethanyahu said tonight is true ( "the prime minister [is] 'secretly planning' a unilateral withdrawal from 90 percent of West Bank" ) I think he is doing Ariel Sharon a favor: for me that would be a reason to seriously consider voting for Sharon's list, Kadimah. Unfortunately, there are no signs of Ariel Sharon or of any of his closest associates really contemplating substantial surprises when it comes to giving up parts of the West Bank. Au contraire, as part of the election campaign - or so it seems, otherwise the timing is quite a coincidence - tenders have been issued for more than two hundred houses in two settlements. O.k., both settlements belong to blocs that will probably remain in Israeli hands even after a ( unilateral ) withdrawal, but ( the timing of ) tenders such as this one will not help to create an atmosphere that will enhance the chances of success for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. If Sharon has already given up on such negotiations - and I would have some understanding for such an approach, given the not very hopeful signs that we receive from 'the other side', no matter what Israel's role is in this - he should tell us so before the elections, If he intends to launch a Disengagement II plan for the West Bank he ought to make that part of the election campaign, clarifying what he thinks that the dimensions of such a disengagement will/should be. By the way, Likud MK Gid'on Sa'ar, the former chairman of what used to be the governing coalition, is talking 'out of the back of his neck' when he says that "the intensifying Qassam rocket attacks attest to the disengagement plan's failure". As an IDF spokesperson said earlier this week, while about 230 Qassam rockets have fallen since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip, a larger number fell in the corresponding period before the implementation of the disengagement plan. Of course, Israeli communities and cities that border on Gaza should get more and better means of protection, and the IDF should respons as forcefully as possible and necessary to these attacks, but when Mr Sa'ar says that o"nly the Likud can place an effective dam in the face of the continued policy of withdrawal and deterioration in the security situation" he shows himself in his true colors, colors that have become a tradition in Israeli politics: those of a politician trying to turn security problems and the misery of others into a political asset. If the intensifying attacks prove anything, it is that the election campaigns and political interests of 'their' extremists and ours run parallel in more than one way.

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