Thursday, February 23, 2006

It is almost amusing to see and hear rightwing politicians and others point at the Hamas victory in the elections for the Palestinian parliament nearly a month ago and say "You see? That is what you get from disengagement." Yesterday former IDF chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon, whose opposition to the disengagement led to his tenure of office not being extended, once again said that Israel's disengagement from Gaza was one of the major factors that led to the victory of Hamas. He also talked about the dangers of the coalition between Hamas and Iran. Maybe he is right, there is no doubt that he knows more about our enemies than I do. Still, I wonder if he believes that without the disengagement Hamas would not have won. We will never know, but I find it hard to believe that the organization would not have played a decisive role in the Palestinian government after the elections. I would like to ask Mr ya'alon if he honestly believes that Israel's continued presence in Gaza would have prevented contacts between Teheran and Hamas. It is not as if no such contacts existed before August 2005. Disengagement did not stop terrorism, but I do not think that anybody had the illusion that it would. The terrorists are not more able or dangerous, more successful or determined than they were seven months ago. We still face the same dangers, only at least we are able to minimize our contact with their main safe haven. That safe haven existed when our soldiers endangered themselves needlessly, it still exists today. Just imagine that our soldiers still were inside the Strip today, we would not have been one bit safer and they would have been sitting ducks even more than they were before Sharon pulled them and the settlers out from Gaza. Claiming that the disengagement brought Hamas to power - i.e. also claiming that the Palestinians would not have become fed up with Fatah and corruption - and/or that a continued Israeli presence in Gaza would have made our world any safer is just as naive as believing that further disengagement will bring us peace. Realists in Israel have stopped looking for peace long ago, I am afraid. The maximum we can ask for today is an end to - most of - the occupation, a permanent border between Israel and some sort of Palestinian state, and a government that starts to take care of the internal problems that threaten us just as much as - and probably even more than - Hamas and the ayatollahs combined. Since a negotiated solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is virtually impossible as long as the Hamas is democratically pulling the strings on the other side of that conflict, to me it seems that if we want to achieve those three goals further unilateral disengagement is a conditio sine qua non.

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