October 20, 2005

Sharon giveth, Sharon taketh (more) away

I should have posted this a few days ago. Everyone familiar with Israel knew that the Gaza withdrawal was mostly a sham. It's true that there are religious fanatics who believe that no land controlled by Jews should ever be given up but most people were aware that the Gaza withdrawal was, as Sharon told the mass circulation Yedioth Ahronoth, a "punishment, and not a reward, for the Palestinians." Similarly, Sharon's most trusted adviser, Dov Weisglass, is on record as saying that
the significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process, and when you freeze that process,you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda.
This is old hat now of course. But as Chris McGreal in the Guardian points out, what we already knew would happen has started to happen. In fact it had already begun before the Gaza withdrawal.
As foreign leaders, including Tony Blair, praised Mr Sharon for his "courage" in pulling out of Gaza last month, Israel was accelerating construction of the West Bank barrier, expropriating more land in the West Bank than it was surrendering in Gaza, and building thousands of new homes in Jewish settlements.
No serious observer of Israel/Palestine can plausibly claim to be surprised at this development.

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