A practical move in Gaza


Why is Israel withdrawing from Gaza?  A  thoughtful analysis is given in the Times of London by Oliver Kamm.

The key is a new practical consensus in Israel.

* The realistic Left has given up its wild hopes for a Canada—style unarmed border between Israel and the Palestinians, because of the utter failure of the Oslo Accords.

* The realistic Right has given up its wild hopes for an Israel that would include the West Bank and Gaza, simply because of demographic realities. The Arab population in those areas is sky—rocketing, supported by European welfare money.

*  Israel needs to shield itself from the Palestinian terror state. Gaza is a drain on its resources, with less than 8,000 settlers living close to 1.3 million Palestinians. But the biggest suicide bomber threat comes from the West Bank, not Gaza. By itself, Gaza can be contained.

* Prime Minister Sharon's "defensive deterrence" against suicide bombers is working so far. Attacks against Israeli civilians are down by 75% in the last three years, due to the protective fence and targeted assassinations of terror chiefs.

* Does Gaza signal a general retreat?  Not likely. The voters will not allow any Israeli government to go back to the indefensible pre—1967 borders, not unless there is a trustworthy guarantee of peace.  There is no confidence in Palestinian peaceful intentions today, nor can there be.

* Kamm does not say this, but there is another ingredient: The rise of a nuclear—armed Iran. The nature of the battlefield will soon change from intifada to nuclear deterrence.

As we learned from Stalin's Russia and Mao's China, a defensive alliance led by the United States is the only way to contain an aggressive nuclear state.

The US needs visible Israeli concessions to be able to unify the Arab regimes most threatened by Iran ——— Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. When Tehran gets its bomb in only a few years, it is the Arab states that will be the most vulnerable. Unlike Israel, they have no nuclear deterrent. They can only be protected by us.

Ariel Sharon  has been a soldier and a farmer. Both jobs require intense realism and practicality, not the hallmarks of a rigid ideologue.  The withdrawal from Gaza is a practical move in a dynamic battlefield.

James Lewis   8 10 05