David Frum asks the question, “Why is Ariel Sharon evacuating Gaza?”
It is not because he believes that a decent Palestinian state will emerge after the Israelis withdraw. Nobody believes that. The almost universal consensus among experts on the region is that post-occupation Gaza will became a Mediterranean Somalia: an unstable failed state in which gangs compete for power and extremist Islam finds a sanctuary.
Nor was Sharon responding to international pressure. His plan for unilateral evacuation surprised and displeased the United States and the European countries. They wanted Sharon to negotiate with Abbas. They wanted the deal to involve all the Palestinian territories, not just Gaza. And they wanted the whole thing to happen very, very slowly.
Israel’s strategic situation did not force Sharon’s hand: Israel was more than capable of holding Gaza for years to come. Domestic public opinion is not the explanation: Sharon won Israel’s 2003 elections by ITAL opposing END ITAL a Gaza withdrawal.
So why, why, why?
Let me try a theory.
Israel is the victim of an organized international hypocrisy.
He says that Ariel Sharon has decided to put an end to the belief that, if Israel would only leave the Palestinian territories, and give them a chance, a peace-loving Palestinian state, living side-by-side with Israel, would emerge and prosper.
Could it be that Sharon is calling the bluff of Western governments and the Arab states? By creating the very Palestinian state that those governments and those states pretend to want but actually dread – Sharon is forcing them to end their pretense and acknowledge the truth:
The Palestinian leadership is incapable of creating a state that can live at peace with anyone, not Israel, not the other Arab states, not Europe, not the world. Somebody else must govern the restless and violent Arab-majority territories west of the Jordan River. Israel has suffered four decades of condemnation for doing the job. Sharon is now resigning the task to anybody else who would like to step in and take over the job. Nobody wants to. But Egypt and Jordan may soon realize that they have no choice. If there is a secret behind Sharon’s plan – that is it.
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