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`What next?`
28 February 2005
By Victoria Buch
Occupation Magazine

After the Tel Aviv terror attack, a Palestinian friend called. We were swearing in unison at the terrorist, at the people who sent him, and at the bloodthirsty sharks of all denominations who ruin our world.

I have nothing good to say at people who perpetrated that last criminal attack.

But let us not forget the following: Since the beginning of the Intifada, Sharon has pursued a systematic policy of destroying lives of millions of Palestinians. This policy was directed towards (a) showing the Palestinians who is the boss, (b) breaking their spirit, and (c) disinheriting them on behalf of the settlement enterprise. One of the by-products, which is crucial for the perpetuation of this policy, is a steady flow of terror acts against Israeli civilians. Mind you, in my view there is no justification whatsoever for such acts.

But it is a fact that if several million people are deprived of normal life, some of them will become terrorists. The ensuing violence enables the Israeli propaganda machine to market the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians as `fight against terror`.

And now Sharon is marketing the Disengagement from Gaza. Everybody is oh-so-hopeful and meanwhile vast settlement construction is continuing deep inside the West Bank, and new large-scale settlement projects are being announced. (See last Uri Avnery article on the subject And the Wall construction is renewed in different places.

But nearly everybody including my left-wing friends believes in the sincerity of Sharon`s intentions to evacuate the Gaza Strip settlements. They also hope for ensuing `disengagement momentum` in the West Bank. In fact diligent steps appear to be taken by the Israeli authorities towards the Disengagement. The date was set for July.

I envisage two scenarios. The one that appears to me most likely is keeping the Disengagement Plan forever as a Plan for the Near Future. Sharon can always find reasons to delay it for another six months and blame the Palestinians for the delay. It has always worked in the past. Meanwhile the brainwashed Israeli public can be induced to play along the Settlement-cum-Wall-cum-West-Bank-Annexation enterprise: `It is all temporary. Settlements will be bargaining chips in the final negotiations, and meanwhile we have to ensure safety of Israeli citizens in the Territories. And the Wall can be removed if the Palestinians behave`. These arguments are an axiom planted firmly in the head of an Average Israeli, who otherwise can be quite unenthusiastic about the settlement project. President Bush will be kept happy too, since on convenient occasions he can present himself as Promoter of Peace in the Middle East.

On the other hand actual realization of the Disengagement means heavy trouble with settlers for Sharon, and opens him to pressure from abroad: What about the next stage - Disengagement from the West Bank? And there is a plain fact which Sharon has skilfully managed to obliterate: Ariel Sharon IS the chief settler, the settlement project is his brainchild and lifetime project.

So the only motivation for Sharon to actually carry out the Disengagement could be to sacrifice Gaza for the West Bank. That is what most of my radical left friends believe. This idea looks easy enough to carry out, provided that the State of Israel has sufficient power to remove the Gaza settlers. By now, Gaza is thoroughly devastated and disconnected from the world. After four years of a life-in-hell during the current Intifada, and many more years of the Occupation, Gazans are unlikely to feel friendly towards Israel. After Israeli withdrawal, chaos may set in. Or Islamic fundamentalists will take over. Then - terrorist attacks and Qassam attacks on Israelis will `do it` for Sharon. That will be the end of another Israeli show, perhaps the grandest of them all, entitled: `We Wanted Peace and Were Willing to Give them Everything but Arabs Only Want to Destroy Us`. And then Sharon will be free to pounce again on Palestinians.

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