Tuesday, April 20, 2004

The fiction of Israeli 'withdrawal' from Gaza

"...."withdrawal."... use of it is designed to dress up Sharon's unilateral action as some kind of selfless gesture designed to improve the chances of real peace and address Palestinian and international concerns despite the absence of a credible Palestinian negotiating partner. Sharon's word is "evacuation," designed to create a similar image.

But the images of withdrawal and evacuation are flagrantly false.... The so-called withdrawal will not include a 200-yard-wide strip connecting extreme southern Gaza to Egypt, which Sharon insists be occupied by the Israeli military (as opposed to the UN or even the United States) to combat widespread tunneling for smuggling purposes.

It will not include any change in the Israeli insistence on controlling every inch of Gaza's airspace and patrolling at will and monitoring all ship traffic along the Mediterranean coast. This "external envelope" on Gaza's land will continue.

Gaza must be free of "armaments," and Israel reserves the right to enter militarily any time it wants for security reasons. Gaza's government will not be permitted to invite any international forces into its territory unless Israel agrees.

On the one hand, the Sharon scheme's claim is... that "there will be no basis for the claim that the Gaza Strip is occupied territory." On the other hand, it says that the existing means of providing water, power, sewage, and telecommunications to the Palestinians will be maintained -- an acknowledgment of Israeli responsibility commensurate with occupation.

In short, the "withdrawal" from Gaza by the end of next year will leave Israel in control of Gaza by every mechanism of control except occupation itself. There can be arguments about the security issues behind all these exceptions, but there can be no argument that they don't amount to direct control of Gaza."

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