Israeli Disengagement, U.S. Re-Engagement

(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Zalman Shoval - A modus vivendi that could give both Palestinians and Israelis an opportunity to start going their separate ways in relative normalcy may result from Israel's disengagement plan, while real, contractual peace will perhaps come only after a generational change. More than a few Israelis are wondering whether the Bush vision of a "democratic, viable Palestinian state" living in peace alongside Israel isn't a bit too visionary, considering there is not a single other Arab state in the region to which these characteristics would apply. There is a danger that unilateral withdrawals would create on the Palestinian side a false sense of having gained an advantage over Israel as a result of their four-year terror campaign. Israel and the U.S. will have to disabuse them of the notion that increased terror begets increased political or economic benefits. From Israel's point of view, having a real "peace partner" means a Palestinian leadership willing and able to effectively give up the option and practice of terror and violence, dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, stop anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement in the media and in the schools, ideologically accept Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, and accept UN Security Council Resolution 242 as the basis for negotiations. The main justification in the eyes of many of the supporters of the Gaza withdrawal plan was assuring America's official backing for Israel's positions in at least part of the West Bank, most of which coincide with those "already existing major Israeli population centers" mentioned in the Bush letter. Without such American backing, there probably wouldn't have been a disengagement plan in the first place. Most of the real social, political, and economic problems in the Middle East have nothing to do with the Palestinian problem. As Mohammed Fadlallah, the spiritual leader of Hizballah, said: "The failed Arab regimes survive thanks partly to the excuse of the Arab-Israeli conflict." The writer served as Israel's Ambassador to the United States from 1990 to 1993 and from 1998 to 2000.

2004-07-28 00:00:00

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