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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Disengagement's military lesson for the West Bank

At JPost.com, Nadav Morag weighs in with this excellent analysis of the lessons the Gaza surrender teach for Judea and Samaria:

The first rule of policymaking is that it needs to be firmly grounded in reality, even if that reality is unpleasant. Consider the following:

  • A Hamas-led Palestinian government refuses to recognize Israel and its interior minister has publicly stated that he does not believe that the Palestinian Authority should try to apprehend people who want to launch attacks against Israel (under the previous Palestinian government, they at least paid lip service to fighting terrorism). Hamas has already claimed victory for the "liberation" of Gaza from Israeli rule and will almost certainly take credit for an Israeli withdrawal from most of the West Bank - thus boosting the popularity of this government and further weakening President Mahmoud Abbas.

    As Hamas rule strengthens and solidifies, the Europeans and even the United States (both of whom are currently taking a tough stance on Hamas) are likely to change their positions recognizing the "pointlessness" of "punishing the Palestinian people."

    By withdrawing, Olmert would be, in effect, making himself a key ally in Hamas's quest to strengthen its control and political legitimacy.

  • The Palestinian terrorist organizations - particularly Hamas and Fatah - have been taking advantage of the current Israeli policy of limiting counterterrorism operations against them, in order to rebuild their infrastructure and rearm. The recent firing of a Russian-built (and apparently Iranian-supplied) Katyusha rocket from Gaza towards a critical infrastructure target in Israel, represents a qualitative increase in the Palestinian capacity to inflict harm on Israel.

    Israel's effective abandonment of the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt has made it possible for the Palestinians to stockpile larger quantities of weapons as well as more powerful ones. In addition, al-Qaida terrorists are said to have infiltrated the Strip and are setting up their own infrastructure there.

  • Despite Israel's withdrawal from the Strip and the "liberation" of Gaza, the Palestinian Authority has not been able to step in and fill Israel's shoes and the political/security situation in the Strip has become increasingly anarchic. As anarchy grows, so do the opportunities for Palestinian terrorists to strike at Israel.

  • ...

    The barrier that Israel is building is not a panacea that will enable Israel to withdraw behind it and forget the Palestinians. Israeli voters may want this to be the case, but wishful thinking does not substitute for realism. The barrier may be effective to a large degree in preventing infiltration, but it cannot prevent the firing of rockets and missiles over it. Moreover, if Palestinian terrorist organizations are afforded free reign in the West Bank, as they now enjoy in Gaza, they will find ways to dig under or fly over the barrier or otherwise compromise it. In order for the barrier to be truly effective, it must be defended from both sides, yet Olmert's plan, if implemented, would ignore this important truth.

    Read the whole thing.


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