Ariel Sharon’s withdrawal planned seems very elegant: Build a wall and unilaterally withdraw. In essence, this unilaterally creates a state of Israel and a Palestinian state. It’s not peace, but its forcing Palestinians to acknowledge the existence of two separate states.
The long held criticism of this plan was that Sharon and Israel was essentially boxing itself in, creating an Israel surrounded on both flanks by two Palestinian failed-states. The Hamas-led victory in the recent elections was no comfort, especially after the opportunity for new leadership given by the passing of Arafat.
Olivier Guitta noted on April 5th that “a Jordanian intelligence source confirmed to Al Hayat that a major Al Qaeda attack was just very recently foiled in Gaza. This source also confirmed that Al Qaeda has been expanding in Gaza and tried to penetrate the West Bank but with less success there.” A mix of Israel’s withdrawal, Arafat’s death and the democratically-elected Hamas is paving the way for Al-Qaida’s presence in Palestine, furthering Al-Qaida’s overall reach and adding another dimension to Israel’s security threat.
The other path presented to Israel, continuing to occupy Palestinian territory and building settlements, is unsustainable in the eye of global opinion and Israel’s moral position. Yet, unfortunately for Israel, the imposed two-state solution provides Israel with some higher moral ground, but presents its own strategic challenges.
Fortress Israel – But for How Long?
So far, Israel is shifting from being a quasi-occupying presence (the settlers) in Palestine to fully embracing its image as Fortress Israel. But..
– As Palestinian terrorists switch from suicide-bombings to rocket attacks (thwarting the barriers), there are clearly limits to this strategy.
– While Israel can withstand the occasional rocket attack, Israel cannot indefinitely retaliate each attack without causing escalation on both sides, eventually compromising any security provided by its barrier.
A Future War between Israel and Palestine
The passing of the Arafat era brought a lot of promise, promises so far dashed by the Hamas victory in the recent elections. But as Israel continues (for now) on its path to unilaterally creating a two-state solution, the question must be asked:
What happens if a democratically-led Palestinian government leads a popular war against Israel?
How would Israel be able to fight an all out war (surely a fourth-generation war) against Palestine, where the line between the Palestinian militants and civilians would be a blur?
That’s a question Israel must ponder as it continues its withdrawal from the territories.
During every Passover, it is tradition to declare “L’shana ha’ba-ah b’Yerushalayim” (Next Year in Jerusalem)
Israel already has their Jerusalem, but when will there be peace?