Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Why Israel is Giving Up Gaza

War and Piece led me to Aluf Benn's incisive analysis in Haaretz of Sharon's possible Gaza strategy. I'd say it confirms my impression that the old general knows what he is doing.

This section seemed particularly clear:
...Further disintegration of the Palestinian Authority under Abbas' weak leadership would turn Gaza into a "Hamastan," ruled by Islamic extremists, and separate it from the West Bank, until eventually Egypt will regain control of Gaza - and Jordan will return to the West Bank. Several Israeli officials advocate this scenario, stressing that an independent Palestinian state is not viable if it does not get more territory from its Arab neighbors. This is the nightmare scenario for the Hashemite rulers of Jordan, who fear the West Bank security barrier will push the Palestinians eastward at their expense.

The Bush administration wants to keep Abbas in power and implement the president's vision of creating a Palestinian state by early 2009. Sharon and Abbas have yet to show they are able to negotiate. For now, they present irreconcilable opening positions, with Abbas opting for a quick final-status deal, and Sharon insisting on a long, gradual process. But both sides will hold elections in 2006, and no serious diplomacy can be expected before then.
So that may be it--if Gaza becomes "Hamastan," it goes back to Egypt. Without Egypt's support, the Palestinians can't succeed. And, Israel just has to hold on until 2008, when Bush will be gone, since a Clinton administration will come in with a different plan. After Arafat screwed-over Bill Clinton, the Clinton administration might not be as sympathetic as Bush, especially to a "Hamastan."

Thus, the Gaza pullout may in fact mark the end of the line for Palestinian statehood, not the beginning.