ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | Gaza Contradictions 10.3.04

Gaza Contradictions

10 March 2004

By Yisrael Ne'eman

Today, Gaza represents contradictions as much as it heralds conflict. The Palestinians, the Egyptians and the Americans all claim they want Israel to end the occupation of the Strip, but now that Israeli PM Ariel Sharon speaks of disconnecting, the issue of responsibility for security has overwhelmed those who made such public demands for decades.

In essence the Palestinians want Israel forces and settlements to remain in order to provide the physical and media target for their resistance movements (terror attacks). Without an Israeli presence in Gaza it will be difficult to garner world condemnation. Lately calls have gone out from the international community for the establishment of a bi-national state, should Israel remain in the Palestinian territories. Increasingly, Israel is being held responsible for the well-being of the Palestinian populace, even though the Palestinian Authority was given control over 85% of Gaza almost ten years ago. With an Israeli withdrawal, the two-state solution will gain a firm upper hand, as will the efforts towards conflict resolution.

The Egyptians continually demand Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian areas, but with Sharons threat to leave Gaza they are in a dilemma. Cairo fears terrorist chaos and the possibility of such violence spreading to Egypt. President Husni Mubarak knows an Israeli withdrawal will put the pressure on him to close down the tunnel traffic of weapons and ammunition being smuggled under the 12 kilometer (7.5 mile) Gaza-Sinai border. Many in the international community will hold Egypt at least partially responsible for violence coming out of the Gaza Strip. Mubarak has made it clear that Egyptian security forces are not interested in fighting an anti-terrorist war against fellow Arabs, with the objective of keeping Israel safe.

The Americans are worried about the ensuing chaos and that Gaza will be a haven for Islamic terrorism. Still attempting to play the honest broker, the US finds it difficult to allow Israel to make unilateral moves even if there is no negotiating partner on the Palestinian side. Hypocritically, both Washington and Cairo demand Israel leave in coordination and agreement with the Palestinian security forces, even though they know cooperation with Israel will not be forthcoming.

Palestinian Authority officials are speaking of security cooperation provided Israel also withdraws from all of Judea and Samaria (West Bank), a condition completely unacceptable to the Sharon government and the majority of the population. Even should Israel withdraw from all areas, the PA cannot be expected to halt terrorism, especially since Chairman Arafat himself is a leading terrorist.

Israel will first play the Washington card. In order to get cabinet approval Sharon must prove he has received something in return for the withdrawal. Since Palestinian cooperation is out of the question, Sharon will demand US support for his Gaza disconnection, even if unilateral. The Americans will agree and then help to line up the Europeans.

As for future terror attacks originating from Gaza, they will be treated as a cross border attack coming from a sovereign nation and Israeli retaliations will be in kind.