One year ago
7 August 2005
I think one should consider the purposes of the government in evacuating Gaza. This was done not by Shimon Peres but by Ariel Sharon. Peres and his ilk live in a fantasy world where, in spite of a hundred years of proof to the contrary, "If we're nice to them they'll like us". I don't think Ariel Sharon thinks that. Sharon is a general who became a politician, not the other way around.
I am hopeful that the reasons for Gaza evacuation are military and strategic. It was a constant drain on the IDF to have to fight in Gaza literally every day to defend a small number against literally millions of Arabs against whom reprisals were difficult and dangerous. Gaza was a vulnerable spot, a sore toe that could be stepped on at will by the Arabs. It created a situation in which locally the Arabs had the upper hand and were able to exploit it continuously. Without Gaza, when the system of security fences is finished the IDF should be able to defend the country in "peace" time with fewer soldiers and resources. Israel will have a smaller vulnerability to terrorist attack and, seen from the Arab side, fewer opportunities for their "operations".
I don't know if it will work, but I think that is the reasoning.
The Oslo fiasco was based on the premise that sufficient concessions would reconcile the Arabs to Israel's existence. That was pure Shimon Peres and "If we're nice to them they'll like us". It was a policy of engaging the Arabs in dialogue and negotiation. We all know how well that worked. I think Sharon knows it too.
That is why this policy is unilateral. I think Sharon's policy of "disengagement" is to create a strong defensive posture that can be defended with fewer soldiers and fewer casualties. It is not dependent on Arab acquiescence. (Which is what the Arabs are currently complaining about - that Israel did not arrange or negotiate the Gaza evacuation with them.) "Disengagement" contains the recognition that any policy that is in any way dependent on Arab cooperation, even if it primarily benefits the Arabs, as Oslo did, is a guaranteed failure.
I hope, though I have no way to know, that "disengagement" is an evolution of Yitzhaak Shamir's policy "For peace, you get peace." i.e. and nothing more. Shamir's premise was that the stronger party had no need to make concessions to the weaker party. The Arab response was and is, "You may be stronger but we will make you bleed." That was the significance of Arafat's remark, "The weakness of Israel is that Israelis love life but Palestinians love death." While the Arabs have access to Israelis, time and persistence are on their side because Israel has to spend blood and resources and morale just to maintain the status quo.
Disengagement means that Arabs looking to harm Israel will no longer see the flesh and blood of young men and women of the IDF nor of Gaza settlements directly under their guns and rockets. Instead they will see miles of concrete walls and steel wire and electronic sensors, and almost no Israelis at all. The human and moral resources required to defend against them will become much less. The resources required of the Arabs to maintain the hatred and incitement will remain just as high. Indeed the political cost may go higher without the reinforcement of terrorist attacks and reprisals for them. As the society expending less resources to maintain the status quo, time will then favor Israel.
I do not know if this is Sharon's policy. I hope it is.