ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | When the Right is Right 15.3.04

When the Right is Right

15 March 2004

By Yisrael Ne'eman

Israeli Transportation Minister Avigdor Lieberman who serves as chairman of the hard line right wing National Union Party disagrees emphatically with PM Ariel Sharons disengagement plan for the Gaza Strip. Lieberman believes that to leave Gaza unilaterally will only encourage terrorism. To support his view, the Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Fatah are already declaring victory over Israel, claiming their armed resistance brought about Sharons decision of unilateral withdrawal and the dismantling of settlements. Both Lieberman and the terror factions know Sharon is making the move in response to international diplomatic pressures and the Palestinian population explosion.

Interviewed on the Voice of Israel radio station today, Lieberman made other points worthy of consideration. Should Israel leave Gaza, the entire area will become a major terrorist haven and a land base for El Qaeda and bin Laden sympathizers. Neither Israels largest port at Ashdod, nor the massive Rutenberg power station in Ashkelon, would be safe from terror attacks even if a security fence halted land based Palestinian terror forays across the border. The terrorists would resort to rockets and possibly worse to threaten Israels strategic interests and endanger hundreds of thousands of Israeli civilians.

The hard line Right is backing off the settlement removal issue, realizing it is a lost cause and actually does more harm than good as far as the IDF is concerned. However, in raising the specter of a world terror threat with a land base (as both Lieberman and National Religious Party Chairman and Housing Minister Effi Eitam have done recently with western statesmen and officials) they have focused attention on the real threat facing regional and world stability should Israel leave Gaza to its own designs.

Sharon is determined to pull out. The two positions are not necessarily contradictory as a complete blockade of Gaza along Israels land border and by the Navy at sea could be imposed. Joint Egyptian-Israeli cooperation in the Rafiah area on both sides of the Sinai-Gaza border would ensure closing down the tunnels used for smuggling in weapons and terrorists. For this, the Americans must convince the Egyptians to get physically involved in halting terrorism.

Lieberman and Eitam know Israels supposed presence in the Strip does not stop terrorism, since there is no control in the populated Palestinian areas. But in essence, this weeks government decision to allow for full scale targeted removals by the army of all those involved in terrorism, has already supplied them with the hoped for answer in battling terrorism. However, the policy cannot be allowed to lapse every time there is collateral damage and innocent Palestinians who are held hostage by their own society are killed in the process. Furthermore, Israeli incursions to destroy arms factories and terrorist concentrations must continue whenever there is a need, and not be subject to diplomatic pressures.

Should all the above measures be taken, it is quite feasible to minimalize the overall terror threat. Once secure, Israel could agree to allowing the liberal, humanist, anti-imperialist European and international organizations (the UN, Red Cross, etc.) to rehabilitate Palestinian society, much in the same way as they are doing in Iraq