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(en) US, Philadelphia, defenestrator* #31 - WHAT'S WRONG WITHISRAEL'S DISENGAGEMENT PLAN? by Rafi Rom

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 27 Dec 2004 11:24:45 +0100 (CET)


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Since 1967, Israel has occupied the West Bank and Gaza
Strip, two small, disconnected strips of land that make up about
22% of what was once Palestine (see map). Israel occupied the
Palestinian territories at the end of the Yom Kippur war, a mas-
sive victory for Israeli forces in which armies from six Arab
countries (not Palestine) were squarely defeated. Over the years
Israel has built military and civilian infrastructure on Palestinian
territory, under the pretext that such a presence on the land is
what is safest for Israel. However it has become clear over the
years that Israel has no intention of allowing a Palestinian sover-
eign state to exist in the territories, and that the goal of the "set-
tler movement" has been to make the land internationally recog-
nized as Palestinian territory inseparable from Israel-proper.
In October 2003, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a right wing
hawk who has been a principal architect of nearly every major
human rights travesty committed by the Israelis against the
Palestinians, announced his intention to withdraw troops and
civilians from the Gaza Strip, the smaller of the two occupied
lands, and much less historically significant to the Jewish people.
The proposal, called "Hitnatkut"-- cutting ourselves off--in
Hebrew, has been dubbed "The Disengagement Plan" in
English media. Some members of the Israeli left, as well as
others in the International Community yearning for a peaceful
solution to the conflict, were taken aback. Has Sharon, who in
1982 (after he orchestrated the invasion of Lebanon which
ended in a massacre of 20,000 Lebanese) said in an interview
"We shall start another war, kill and destroy more and more,
until they [ie the Arabs] will have had enough," finally realized
that endless war does not serve the interest of the Israeli peo-
ple?

Not at all. If you read the "disengagement plan" closely
and conceptualize it inside of the history of the conflict as well
as the "facts on the ground," it is clear that it is just the newest
step in the Israeli government's plan to control the West Bank
and Gaza. Ariel Sharon's "disengagement plan" is a fantastic
example of how banality and technical language can make even
the most horrific actions seem progressive. The plan stems
from the conclusion of influential political and military officials
that removing a military and civilian presence in Gaza will make
control of the Palestinian population more efficient. This is not
a step in the right direction.

In an interview with Haaretz, one of Israel's major newspa-
pers, Dov Wienglass, a senior policy advisor to Ariel Sharon,
said, the purpose of the disengagement plan is to end the peace
process. "When you freeze that process, you prevent the estab-
lishment of a Palestinian state and you prevent a discussion on
the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem...Effectively, this whole
package called the Palestinian state . . . has been removed indefi-
nitely from our agenda. The disengagement is actually
for maldehyde. It supplies the amount of for maldehyde that is
necessary so there will not be a political process with the
Palestinians."

Although Sharon was quick to distance himself from these
words, it is important to keep in mind that Weinglass is a long-
time friend and conspirator of Sharon's, possessesing the same
thinking process Sharon does.

So much talking has been done about this, that many
believe that the withdrawal has already begun. It has
not. In fact, settlements are still being built, homes
are still being demolished, and raids deep inside Gaza
territory are still being carried out on a daily basis.

The 1800 word plan outlines four stage, year long process that
will remove any Israeli presence inside of the West Bank.
I am not brushing aside the historical sig-
nificance of Israel finally acknowledging that
the settlements in Gaza are simply not sustainable.
However, what Israel proposes to put in its place,
is equally unsustainable for any long-term peace in
the region.

Why the disengagement plan?
In order to fully understand what is going on with Gaza, it is
necessary to put it into historical perspective. Ariel Sharon has
probably been the most influential Israeli official, both politically
and militarily, inTel Aviv expanding Israel's control over the
occupied territories.

At every crucial juncture in the occupation, Sharon has been there.
In fact, from his position in the military in the late 1960s and 70s
he movedthe first military bases into the West Bank, as a pretext for
building Israeli infrastr ucture overPalestinian land. Sharon
has always made it clear that the West Bank -- what he, and many
others call by the biblical name "Judea andSamaria" -- will
eventually become part of Israel.

Other territories that Israel has occupied over the years, from
the Golan Heights, Southern Lebanon, or the Sinai Peninsula,
have always been peripheral.

Sharon's plan with the Gaza Strip is not the first time he has
proposed such a thing. In fact, he was one of the first major
Israeli figures to pressure the Israeli government in withdrawing
from the Sinai Peninsula, which extends from Israel's Southern
border all the way to the Suez Canal. This was after he lead the
military front into the Sinai Penninsula, which led to the land
being occupied in the first place.

At the time, Sharon made his reasoning clear. Israel could not
maintain an aggressive relationship with Egypt and continue
controlling the West Bank and Gaza. Israel's only option was to
exchange "land for peace." To Sharon, giving up the Sinai
Peninsula was necessary to fulfill his
vision of seeing the other occupied territories fully
incorporated into Israel proper. During these
peace talks, Sharon even said to then President
Jimmy Carter that one day there would be one mil-
lion Jews in the West Bank. All of this is outlined in
"Righteous Victims," a book by Benny Morris, an
Israeli historian famous for his deadpan explanation of
Israel's misdeeds and his support for them.

Now, Sharon has come to the same conclusion. Gaza
has little to offer Israel, resource and land wise, unlike
the West Bank. If anything, it is a major demo-
graphic nightmare, since Gaza, one of the most
densely populated strips of land in the world, is a
major factor in lessening the gap between the Jewish
and Palestinian population in the "greater" Israel.
By withdrawing from the Gaza Strip, Israel
buys itself some more time before it has to face the
demographic reality that there are more Palestinians
than Jews in the region.

That said, it is a mistake to even think of
the "disengagement plan" as a withdrawal. As
Webster's Dictionary makes it clear, disengage
means "to release from something that engages; to
release or detach oneself." What Israel is trying to
do is detach itself from any ethical or legal obliga-
tions it has to the nation it occupies, without ending
its control over the land. Israel plans on maintaining
the occupation from the outside, or as one Israeli com-
mentator put it, by "remote control."

Since Gaza is such a small territory, Israel will be able
to effectively control it from the outside, making it the
largest prison in the world. As Israel's disengagement plan
makes clear, when it comes to military, economic, political,
or environmental issues, the status quo will remain the same.
It should be noted that the status quo is absolutely horrible.
For instance, there is a massive water shortage in Gaza, with
water available only a few hours every day. It is bitterly comical
that the plan even says that control of the sewage structure will
be given over to the Palestinians, since Gaza has some of the
most severe sanitary problems in the world.

There is no basis to believe that Gaza will become any sort
of independent territory. Israel will still control the seaports
and the air space, and will reserve the right to invade Gaza "at
will." Moreover, it plans on keeping the buffer zone in place
between Gaza and Egypt.

This buffer zone is the site of some of the worst human
rights atrocities in the region. According to Human Rights
Watch, some 16,000 Palestinians have been expelled from the
region, and 1600 homes have been demolished.

The Disengagement Plan is only one part of what is basi-
cally a two-pronged plan. The plan itself reads, "In any future
final status arrangement, there will be no Israeli settlement
activity in the Gaza Strip. On the other hand, it is
clear that there will be areas in Judea and
Samaria that will be part of the State of Israel,
and there will be civilian communities, security
zones and other places in which Israel has fur-
ther interest inside those areas." The bottom
line is that Israel sees evacuating the settlements
from the Gaza Strip as the only path towards
fully incorporating the West Bank into the fab-
ric of Israel. In a memo released by the PLO
Negotiation Affairs Department on 10/7/04,
"the Gaza withdrawal plan has less to do with
what Israel is giving up in Gaza and more to do
with what Israel plans on taking from the West
Bank."

Over the past few years, Israel has been
stepping up the construction of settlements
and military bases in the West Bank. There
now exists what Israeli anthropologist and
activist Jeff Halper has dubbed "The matrix of
control" a sophisticated network of military
and civilian infrastructure that ensures that no
viable Palestine state can exist. Halper includes
in this "matrix" the military rule imposed on
the Palestinians, the expropriation of land for
the building of settlements, the restriction of
freedom of movement, and a whole host of
other mechanisms that make life in Palestine
unlivable for Palestinians.

Linguistically, Sharon's "disengagement
plan" is almost as manipulative as the "separa-
tion barrier" or "security fence," being built
around and inside the West Bank. The wall has
been built on thousands of acres of Palestinian
land, separated villages, stealing natural
resources, and most importantly, weaving
around many key settlements and essentially
annexing them.

The disengagement plan is one more step
in strengthening the apartheid regime that
divides Israelis and Palestinians. This does not
mean the course of things is irreversible. As
long as Sharon remains in power, the conflict
will continue as it always has.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
The Electronic Intifada (alternative news)
www.electronicintifada.net
B'Tselem *(Israeli Human Rights Org)
www.betselem.org
PENGON (Coalition of Palestinian NGOs)
www.sustaincampaign.org
International Middle East Media Center
(alternative news) www.imemc.org
2005 Philadelphia Palestine
Film Festival (get involved!)
www.philadelphiapalestinefilmfestival.or
[www.israel.indymedia.org]
===========================
* [Ed. note: The defenestrator is of an
Anarchist/antiauthoritarian perspective]


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