Friday, June 24, 2005


A perfect parking space for the peace process

Daniel Levy has a depressing, but accurate in my view, take on the Gaza disengagement plan in today's Ha'aretz. He calls his piece "after Gaza, more Gaza" -- basically illustrating the way in which the refusal to deal with any of the serious issues stemming from the Gaza disengagement (some previously mentioned here) by Sharon has set up an opportunity for the "disengagement" to continue ad infinitum even after the settlers have been evacuated.
The Gaza and northern West Bank disengagement is complicated, very complicated. It throws up a host of issues that are only now being addressed and coordinated with the Palestinian Authority, despite the 18 months of lead time. These are weighty and important issues: ensuring the free flow of goods between Gaza and external markets, Gaza and the West Bank, and Gaza and Israel; arrangements for the border crossings between Gaza and Egypt, the Philadelphi route, as well as the territorial link between Gaza and the West Bank; defining the legal status of post-withdrawal Gaza; access of Gazan laborers to Israel - and the list goes on.

Having started (intentionally?) dealing with these issues so late, they will never be resolved in the 53 remaining days. A committee is needed, and not just one committee but a steering committee with many sub-committees. Its work can take weeks, months, perhaps even years. You want a peace process after Gaza, you got it. Israelis and Palestinians will meet, in hotels, in European capitals, over hummus, over croissants. "After Gaza, more Gaza."

The tactic is politically convenient. It can provide the glue for maintaining the governing coalition and avoid elections; it muzzles any prospective Israeli opposition and public debate on what comes next; it defers more concerted international engagement, and may even catch the Palestinian leadership off balance. A perfect parking space for the peace process. The tactic gives Sharon his desired time-out from any serious political process or the need to tackle the difficult questions for which he either has no answers or risks being exposed as the unreasonable naysayer.
It fits perfectly with Sharon's history of manipulating the "peace process" to avoid dealing with both the Palestinian question and with domestic considerations. You can't bail on him in the middle of a crisis can you? And what is more of a crisis than the Gaza disengagement, which involves the Palestinians, the settlers, border issues, etc. And so the Palestinian fears of "Gaza first and Gaza last" may be replaced with "Gaza first and Gaza forever." And the U.S., of course, will insist that it can't rush Israel in the process of making painful concessions. And the longer it takes, the more Gaza becomes a powderkeg, the more attacks from Palestinians there will be, the more the Israeli and U.S. governments and right-wing echo chambers will clamor about how "this is what happens when you give the Palestinians anything (land, territorial control, etc.), when you try to appease terrorists" and on and on and all the same old bullshit.

And what do you think of Obadiah Shoher's arguments against the peace process ( )?
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