Security, Peace, and Israel's Strategy of Disengagement

(Washington Institute for Near East Policy) Maj. Gen. (ret.) Giora Eiland - Arafat's policy is to avoid reaching a peace agreement with Israel. This policy is based on four pillars: first, promoting a diplomatic "peace process" because the process itself is something that most everyone supports; second, retaining the terrorism option; third, sustaining the notion that Palestinian victimhood is so terrible that it requires the attention of the entire international community; and fourth, biding time until Palestinians constitute a large majority in the historic land of Palestine. If all of these efforts are pursued simultaneously, then - in Arafat's view - the State of Israel will not survive. Hizballah has succeeded in transforming itself into an organization with substantial military capacity, including 12,000 rockets in reach of approximately half of Israel. This situation - developed by a Lebanese organization after Israel was certified to have ended its occupation of Lebanese territory - poses a real military threat to the existence of the state. Is there any reason to believe that the situation will differ in the West Bank and Gaza after an Israeli withdrawal? Will Hamas not follow in Hizballah's path? Will the Palestinian Authority behave differently than the government of Lebanon? Can one seriously conclude that the extreme poverty in Egypt, the utter lack of human rights in Saudi Arabia, or the many other fundamental problems holding back development in Arab societies are the result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Much more likely, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict provides an easy excuse not to address these problems and to divert pressure from within those societies onto an outside problem. General Eiland is Israel's national security advisor.

2004-06-11 00:00:00

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