Global Policy Forum

Disengagement, Where Would It Lead To?


By George Rishmawi

International Middle East Media Center
August 16, 2005

As the implementation of the disengagement plan begun, a major question is raised among the Palestinians, regarding what would this step, which took Israel 38 years to take, lead to. Would the disengagement present a precedent to the evacuation of settlements that might lead to further withdrawals from the West Bank? This is what all Palestinians hope the disengagement would lead to.

If the disengagement is not a first step of a process of withdrawals from the West Bank, then there is no hope for a future Palestinian state. The achievements Israel made out of the disengagement plan constitute an obstacle for any chance for a viable Palestinian state to be established.

In the summit that joined the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington on April 14, 2004, the latter ensured several issues, as the reward to Israel. Bush promised Sharon recognition of the current route of the wall Israel is building on the West Bank land. The wall, if completed, will shrink the West Bank almost half of its original size in 1967. Bush promised Sharon recognition of the major settlements blocs in the West Bank as part of the land of Israel. These settlements, if not removed, would split what is left of the West Bank into three sections, hardly connected with each other.

Additionally, Bush promised Sharon that the U.S. will not press Israel for negotiations with the Palestinians if Israel decides any further withdrawals, besides, Israel will not be pressed for withdrawing to the internationally recognized borders of 1976. The U.S. also promised Israel that the Palestinian refugees will never be back to their land they were expelled from in 1948, and if they want to return, they can, but only to the future Palestinian State.

The West Bank is around 22 percent of the historic Palestine, given the recognized route of the wall, and the settlements, this area, suggested to be the future Palestinian state will be 11 percent only. The future state, first, does not enjoy territorial contiguity; second, surrounded from all sides by "Israel", third, consequently access to 'Palestine' in any way will be only through Israel, so it is not sovereign over its borders. The Road Map, peace plan, envisioned by George W. Bush himself, suggests that the future Palestinian state will be sovereign, and viable, and must enjoy territorial contiguity.

On the other hand, Israel managed to market the disengagement to the world as an end to the occupation. Israel's ambassador to the U.N., Dan Gillerman hopes that disengagement will end the U.N.'s criticism to Israel. The U.N. General Assembly passes two dozens of resolutions criticizing Israel, the international body failed to take any action against Israel. "It is time for the United Nations to acknowledge Israel's actions," Gillerman told a news conference. "We hope that in the United Nations there will be no more business as usual as far as the Middle East is concerned ... No more Israel-bashing, no more ongoing resolutions which keep repeating themselves time after time."

Gillerman's words are enough evidence that Israel hopes to tell the world, "the occupation is over", after it pulls out its settlements from the Gaza Strip and four minor ones in the northern West Bank. The only conclusion one can draw from the different things happening, is that disengagement is big favor Sharon did for Israel. It is an attempt to legalize the occupation of the West Bank.

Palestinians would not object the disengagement, because it is for them, especially the Gaza residents, a relief that they were dreaming of since 38 years. The 7700 Jewish settlers lived on 11 square Kilometers while the 1.5 million Palestinians lived on 55 square kilometers of built up area.




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