Monday, November 22, 2004

T.Reinhart: (11/04) Sharon's Gaza Pullout: Not Gonna Happen!

Sharon's Gaza Pullout: Not Gonna Happen!
Tanya Reinhart, The Electronic Intifada, 16 November 2004

This article is the text of a speech given at the Euro/Palestine concert, Paris, on 6 November 6 2004.

We gather here at difficult times, when it seems that the Palestinian cause
has been almost eliminated from the international agenda. The Western world is hailing the new "peace vision" of Sharon's disengagement plan. The day this plan passed in the Israeli Knesset ("Parliament") last week was hailed by Le Monde as a historical day. Who would pay attention to the two line news piece that on that same day, the Israeli army killed 16 Palestinians in Khan Younis?

It is pretty much known even in the West that Sharon's plan is not about ending the occupation. With regard to the Gaza Strip, the disengagement plan published in the Israeli papers on Friday, April 16, specifies that "Israel will supervise and guard the external envelope on land, will maintain exclusive control in the air space of Gaza, and will continue to conduct military activities in the sea space of the Gaza Strip". In other words, the Palestinians will be imprisoned from all sides, with no connection to the world, except through Israel. Israel also reserves for itself the right to act militarily inside the Gaza Strip. In return for this "concession", Israel would be permitted to complete the wall and to maintain the situation in the West Bank as is. The innovation in the Bush-Sharon agreement that approved this plan is that this is not a proposal awaiting the approval of the Palestinian people. Now the Palestinians are not even asked. It is Israel and the U.S. who are determining the facts on the ground. Israel marks the land that it desires, and builds a wall on that route.

For those who oppose Israeli occupation, it is clear, then, that Sharon's disengagement is just a plan for maintaining the occupation with more international legitimacy. However, there is one presupposition shared in all discussions of this plan - that in the process, Sharon also intends to dismantle the settlements of the Gaza Strip, and return the land they are built on to the Palestinians. I should say that had I believed this might happen, I would have supported the plan. The Gaza settlements, together with their land reserves, security zones, Israeli-only roads, and the military array protecting them, occupy almost a third of the strip's land, which is one of the most densely populated areas of the world. Had this land been returned to its owners, it would be a step forward. We should never forget that the Palestinian struggle is not only for their liberation, but for regaining their lands in the occupied territories - lands that Israel has been appropriating since 67. As long as the Palestinians manage to hold on to their land, under even the worst occupation, they will eventually also gain their liberation. Without land, what is at stake is not just their liberation, but their survival.

But what basis is there to believe that Sharon indeed plans to dismantle settlements at some point? Certainly not the content of the resolution passed by the Israeli Knesset on October 26 - the day that has been depicted by Israeli and virtually all Western media as a "historical" day with "dramatic" resolution. In fact, the Israeli parliament voted to approve "the revised disengagement plan", which was previously approved in another "historical meeting" of the Israeli Cabinet, on June 6, 2004. So it is appropriate to check what was actually approved at that Cabinet meeting.

Ha'aretz's ceremonial headlines on June 7 declared "Disengagement on its way". But here are the smaller letters in the body of the report:
"At the end of a dramatic cabinet meeting yesterday, the government passed Ariel Sharon's revised disengagement plan, by a vote of 14-7, but the decision does not allow for the dismantling of settlements and the prime minister will have to go back to the cabinet when he actually wants to begin the evacuation process. ...The decision on the evacuation of settlements will be brought to the government at the end of a preparation period... [that] would end next March 1" ( Aluf Benn, Gideon Alon, and Nathan Guttmanm, Ha'aretz, June 7, 2004).

Elsewhere in that paper it is explained that " there was no approval of actual evacuations... A second government discussion would be held in this regard, 'taking into account the circumstances at the time' " (Aluf Benn, Ha'aretz, June 7, 2004). The only thing the Israeli government, followed now by the Israeli Knesset, have approved, then, is to have a discussion of the idea of dismantling Gaza settlements sometime next year. It was also decided that in the meanwhile, building and development in the Gaza settlements may continue: "The approved plan ensures 'support for the needs of daily life' in settlements slated for evacuation. Bans on construction permits and leasing of lands were also removed from the prime minister's proposal" (ibid). And indeed, on the ground, slots of land are still being leased (for ridiculously cheap prices) to Israelis who wish to settle in Gaza, and building permits are granted by a special committee appointed by the government in the same "dramatic" meeting on June 6.[1]

Still, none of these facts were registered in public consciousness. The actual content of the cabinet decision was reported only once - on that same day - and then disappeared from the papers that keep recycling the stories about its heroic significance. Precisely the same happened in the present round. The fact that the Knesset has only voted to approve "the amended disengagement plan" that contains no decision to dismantle settlements was reported in the Israeli media:
Knesset members voting tonight on the disengagement plan have received a copy of the "amended disengagement law" the cabinet passed on June 6, plus appendices containing the principles of the plan and its implementation... According to the compromise negotiated at the time... the cabinet decision "contains nothing to evacuate settlements." To remove any doubt in this regard, the cabinet decision also states that "after the conclusion of preparatory work, the cabinet will reconvene to separately debate and decide whether or not to evacuate settlements, which settlements, and at what speed, in consideration of circumstances at that time. (Yuval Yoaz, Ha'aretz, Oct 26, 2004)

But again, this information appeared only once or twice, buried underneath bold headlines that even compared Sharon to Churchill. This is how a myth is built.

Another test-case for how serious the evacuation intentions are is the issue of compensations for the evacuated settlers. Since the cabinet's decision in June, many of the Gaza settlers began inquiring, directly or through hired lawyers, how and when they can be compensated. Behind the noisy protest of the settlers' leadership, many are relieved to be able to finally leave, and are just waiting for the compensations. Anybody intending seriously to evacuate them, would start by compensating first those who are ready to leave immediately, leaving only the ideological minority to be evacuated forcefully. Indeed, for five months, since the cabinet's decision in June, both the settlers and the Israeli public believe that this is about to happen any moment now. Again, a faith with no basis.

Special committees have worked with much publicity on every detail of the compensation plan. Many believe this was finally approved by the Knesset on November 4. Only in the small letters of what actually happened one can learn that the compensation law has passed only its preliminary first hearing (reading). In principle, the second and third hearing could take place within few weeks, but it was clarified in advance that the second reading will take place only after the government decides on actual evacuation, in March 2005, or later (Yosi Verter, Ha'aretz, Oct 8, 2004.) Till then, no one will be compensated. As Aluf Ben summarized this, "the Knesset will vote in the first reading of the Implementation of the Disengagement Plan Law, which authorizes the government to evacuate settlements and compensate those evacuated. Then there will be debates in the committees, and a second and third reading... and the law could be blocked at any stage" (Ha'aretz, Oct 27, 2004).

Outside Israel, the details of what was actually decided didn't even make it into the news once, and all that is repeated over and over again in the Western media is the propaganda produced by the Israeli political system - headlines from which one could infer that the dismantling of settlements is around the corner. Thus, the political debate around Sharon's plan concentrates only around whether it is good enough. The possibility that this is just another Israeli deceit does not even arise. And if you try to bring it up, you are perceived as having landed from the moon, as has happened to me in several European media interviews.

Deception and lies have been a corner stone in Israeli policy, brought to a new level of perfection since Oslo. While the world believed that Rabin promised to eventually end the occupation and dismantle the settlements, the number of Israeli settlers actually doubled during his rule. At the same time that Barak declared he intended to dismantle the Golan Heights settlements, in 1999, he actually poured money into their expansion. As Sharon promised to dismantle at least the illegal settlement posts in the West Bank, their number kept increasing. Still, none of this is ever remembered. Each new lie is received with welcome cheers by the Israeli peace camp and by European governments. Since Oslo, every Israeli government knows that all it takes, to ease diplomatic pressure, is to come up with a new "peace plan".

The ritual repeats itself with each new "plan" of this sort. The crucial factor in convincing the world that this time "it is for real" is right wing protest. Of course when the government comes up with a new scheme of deception, the right wing and settlers believe it as well. Rabin's deceit has cost him his life. The same threats are now being directed at Sharon. This is sufficient to convince the Israeli peace camp that Sharon is determined to dismantle settlements. Even serious anti-occupation thinkers write articles warning of the danger of "civil war" with the settlers (forgetting that for this to be even remotely possible, someone should try indeed to evacuate them first). The implication is almost unavoidable: In view of this coming civil war, Sharon is our leader. We should all unite behind him, against the dark forces in Israel.

Indeed, this massive Israeli propaganda works. Throughout the Western world, Sharon is now depicted as a messenger of peace, because he has declared that he is willing to evacuate some of the territories. All of a sudden, Sharon is viewed as the sane center of Israel, withstanding right wing pressure. The prevailing perception is that Israel is finally led by a man of peace, with a respectable determination to carry out painful concessions. And as long as this is the perspective, Sharon can do whatever he wants. The Israeli army terrorizes the Gaza Strip. dozens of Palestinians are being killed, including children on their way to school, houses are demolished and agricultural land destroyed.

At the time of operation "Defensive Shield" in the West Bank and Jenin refugee camp two years ago, there was substantial world protest. The last operation "Days of Penitence" in the Jabalia camp in the Gaza Strip has hardly received any coverage. Backed by the U.S., Sharon is realizing with frightening efficiency his long-standing vision of evicting the maximum number of Palestinians from their land. In the spirit of Orwell, it was even explained that one of the aims of "Days of Penitence" is to "expand the security zones" around the Gaza settlements (namely to enlarge their lands, pushing more Palestinians out of these lands), in order to guarantee that when they are evacuated, it would not be "under fire". (Aluf Ben, Ha'aretz, Oct 4, 2004). But Europe looks the other way, reassured of Sharon's new vision of peace.

These are difficult days, when Orwell seems to pale, compared to the power of present day propaganda, when it seems that the European governments are immovable in their support of Israel, no matter what crimes it commits; and the Palestinians are dying slowly, with their suffering not even being reported. But in such times, when governments are unwilling to impose international law, the people of the world can still take matters in their hands. Largely unreported, there is a growing on-going joint struggle of Palestinians, Israelis and internationals from the International Solidarity Movement, who stand daily in front of the army and the settlers in the Palestinian territories, in nonviolent, peaceful protest, documenting the crime, protecting as much of the land as they can, and slowing down Sharon's massive work of destruction. For the first time in the history of the occupation, we are seeing joint Israeli-Palestinian struggle. Along with Israel of the army and the settlers, a new Israel-Palestine is forming.

The breathtaking scenery of the West Bank has been sliced up by the new roads that the rulers have built for their own exclusive use. Beneath them lie the old roads of the vanquished. There, on the lower level, is where the other Israel-Palestine treads. For almost two years, Israeli youths arrive in settlement buses and then make their way on foot and in Palestinian taxis among the checkpoints. They trek between the villages in groups or alone. Some sleep in the villages. Others will travel the same route the next day to reach the demonstration. Everywhere they go they are greeted with blessings and beaming faces.

"Tfaddalu," the children in the doorways say, as if they had never heard of stone-throwing. All along the "seam line" in the West Bank, along the root of the wall, the Palestinians have opened their hearts and their homes to the Israelis and internationals who come to support their non-violent resistance to the wall and the occupation robbing them of their land. These days, hundreds of Israelis are going almost daily to the West Bank to protect the Palestinian olive harvest from the settlers, who, protected by the Israeli army, try to prevent the harvest.

What has brought young Israelis to stand with the Palestinians in front of the army is the conviction that there is a basic line of justice that must not be crossed, that there is a law that is higher than the army's laws of closed military zones: there is international law, which forbids ethnic cleansing, and there is the law of conscience. But what makes them return, day after day, is the new covenant that has been struck between the peoples of this land, a pact of fraternity and friendship between Israelis and Palestinians who love life, the land, the evening breeze. They know that it is possible to live differently on this land.

This daily struggle is our hope. It has become possible with the help of individuals from all over the world who come there to join the new form of resistance. They are facing harassment. Many are being stopped and deported, but they still keep coming. As long as more people come, even for a short time, as long as they are backed and supported by many others at home who could not join in yet, the struggle will go on, offering hope where governments fail.

Related Links

BY TOPIC: Sharon's "Gaza Disengagement Plan" (early February 2004)

BY TOPIC: Israeli raid on northern Gaza, "Operation Days of Penitence" (28 September-15 October 2004)

BY TOPIC: Israel's "Operation Rainbow" in Rafah, Gaza (13 May 2004-)

Footnotes 1. eg. "Yesterday, press photographers were invited in to take a picture of the first session of the committee to deal with the construction in the [Gaza] settlements, headed by PMO Director General Ilan Cohen. The committee is meant to examine the issue of construction and other development projects in settlements that are designated for evacuation. Cohen says Sharon told him 'not to compromise over security needs'. Gaza Regional Council Chairman Avner Shimoni won approval for 26 bullet-proofed buildings in Gush Katif. The new buildings are meant for residences, and school rooms are meant for Kfar Darom, Netzarim and Neveh Dekalim. So far, some 350 development projects have been submitted to the committee" (Aluf Benn and Nir Hason, Ha'aretz, July 27, 2004).

Prof. Tanya Reinhart is a lecturer in linguistics, media and cultural studies at the Tel Aviv University. She is the author of several books, including Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948. This article is the text of a speech given at the Euro/Palestine concert, Paris, on 6 November 6 2004.

Sharon's Phony Disengagement'sPhonyDisengagement.html

Sharon’s Phony Disengagement

by Ronald Bleier
June 2004

It’s remarkable that Sharon’s Gaza disengagement plan is not more widely recognized for the hoax that it is, as only a few lonely voices have done. Left journalist Haim Baram has termed it a “fairy tale,” and Gush Shalom activist Uri Avnery has called it a “fraud,” “an exercise in deceit,” while author and academic Tanya Reinhardt has provided documentation demonstrating the lack of any practical steps Israel is taking that would indicate a serious intent to remove the settlers (see below). Nevertheless, despite the absence of such evidence the media and the international community largely continue to take Sharon’s disengagement plan seriously, aiding his agenda. Meanwhile Israel continues to pour resources into the settlements, even as it consistently moves the pullout date further and further into the future. At the same time the Israeli government maintains its hard line policy against the Palestinians, driving military incursions into Gaza and the West Bank at will, without let or hindrance from the U.S. or the international community. Sharon refuses to negotiate with the Palestinians, continues work on the separation Wall, gobbling up Palestinian land and water resources and as his government relentlessly strengthens its crushing encirclement of hundreds of thousands of thousands of West Bank Palestinians.

Sharon advanced the Gaza disengagement plan at the height of the corruption scandal that seemed to enmesh him and his sons. Sharon’s plan cleverly shifted the agenda and provided the political cover enabling President George W. Bush by means of an exchange of letters in mid-April to reverse long standing U.S. policy and U.N. resolutions relating to the Palestinians. In particular, President Bush brushed aside the critical principle, often reiterated at the U.N., of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory conquered by force. In his dramatic joint press conference in Washington with Ariel Sharon on April 14th, President Bush, recognizing “new realities on the ground,” declared that Israel can permanently keep major settlements in the West Bank, For good measure he also rejected the Palestinian right of return to Israeli territory. In addition, while freezing the Palestinian leadership out of these negotiations, Bush effectively gave carte blanche to the continued Israeli construction of the Wall on Palestinian territory, albeit with the meaningless reservation that it was to be regarded as a temporary structure.

While the Bush concessions to Sharon were not in themselves binding, nevertheless the Israeli prime minister well understood their value as an historic precedent that it may be difficult even for a succeeding Kerry administration to ignore or overturn. It’s no wonder that on the return flight from Washington, Sharon and his colleagues celebrated with champagne. In a Knesset speech two weeks later, Sharon bragged that the U.S. concessions represented “the harshest blow to fall on the Palestinians since 1948.” Not surprisingly, when Israel’s attorney general, Menachem Mazuz, a member of Sharon’s government, announced that Sharon was cleared of all corruption charges, aside from a relatively quiet opposition, there was little hint of effective public protest against a leader who had successfully brought about a crucial change in U.S. policy.

Ironically and tragically, the Gaza disengagement plan also provided political cover for the brutal ravages Sharon ordered this winter and spring in Gaza. These included the assassinations of Hamas leaders Sheik Yassin and Dr. Abd al- Rantisi, an extensive Israeli invasion of Rafah in which at least 60 Palestinians were killed, almost 300 Palestinian homes demolished, and close to 4,000 people made homeless. These outrages should be seen as more than merely an attempt to defeat the Palestinians: the Palestinians were soundly defeated in 1948 and once again in 1967. Sharon’s purpose goes much further. His aim is to continue the consolidation of Israeli control over all of the former Palestine and ultimately to make it impossible for the bulk of the 4.8 million Palestinians who now live there to remain.

Sharon’s apparent plan is to continue to put tremendous pressure on selected areas in the occupied territories, biding his time until events allow him to proceed with large-scale expulsions from the West Bank and Gaza (and later from Israel). Shraga Elam, a Swiss based Israeli investigative journalist, suggests that the Operation Rainbow Rafah operation was conducted along the lines of the old master plan, “Field of Thorns” which foresees a mass deportation of the Palestinians.[1] The photos that appeared in April of Palestinian families carrying away their belongings as best they could from their homes in Rafah in fear of Israeli tanks and bulldozers, could not but bring up memories of the mass expulsions of Palestinians in 1948. The images from Rafah are harsh reminders of how relatively simple from a military point of view it will be for the IDF to carry out expulsion orders once the political shoe has dropped.

Despite these stark realities, commentators continue to put forward the theory that Sharon’s brutalities in Gaza and the West Bank are meant to put the Palestinian community on notice in preparation for the day that the Israelis leave! Much also is made in Western analysis of the supposed Israeli willingness to be rid of Gaza. Yitzhak Rabin’s statement in 1992 that he wished that Gaza would just “sink into the sea,” is perceived as expressing a consensus Israeli attitude. But such a view doesn’t take into account the Zionist goal of a creating a Jewish state in all of the former Palestine. Removing Israeli settlers would be at cross-purposes with everything the Zionist community has worked toward since well before the birth of Israel.

Sharon’s Gaza disengagement plan is not new. As Meron Benvenisti, longtime critic of Israeli settlement policy, explained in Ha’aretz, similar plans have come and gone “quite a few times over the past 20 years.”[2] Moreover, if the Western media weren’t generally prejudiced to favor Israel over the Arabs, more would be able to see through Sharon’s parliamentary maneuvers and his recurrent “Cabinet Crises.” The May 2nd Likud party referendum that voted down his plan was widely seen as a personal defeat for Sharon, even though the vote suited his purpose to delay any substantive changes to the Gaza settlements. It’s telling that Sharon decided not to present his scheme to a national referendum that stood excellent chances of winning.

On the ground, there is no evidence of Israeli plans to leave Gaza. Instead, circumstantial evidence supports the view that the Israeli settlers are planning to stay indefinitely and in good time will increase their numbers. Tanya Reinhart pointed out in March that there was “no sign on the ground of any intention to evacuate from Gaza.” Work on fortifying the strategically important settlement of Netzarim that separates the northern area including Gaza City from the rest of the strip “has only intensified.” At the cost of millions of shekels, the Israeli government continued to build a new electronic security fence around Netzarim. Reinhart emphasized that the Israeli chief of staff approved these plans and the region commander issued orders that included the appropriation of land from the Palestinians.[3]

Two weeks later Reinhart noticed a “pretty relaxed” settler from Netzarim appearing on Israeli TV who reasoned that “If the defense minister is building right now a new security fence for us, then surely he does not intend to evacuate us.” [4] Even the New York Times noticed that the settlers have little cause for concern. A relevant story in early April quoted an unnamed Israeli official to the effect that there were no plans in the offing to dismantle Gaza settlements and that settlement projects “in the pipeline” are going forward. The same article quoted Eran Sternberg, a spokesman for the Gush Qatif settlement bloc in Gaza who flatly contradicted an Israeli government announcement that settler development would be halted. “On the ground there are a lot of projects, a lot of families coming here all the time.”[5]

In early May, Sharon’s own national security advisor, Giora Eland appeared to be confident enough of the strength of the Israeli position to state flatly that the disengagement plan “could be dead.” At a Washington Institute symposium, Eland, the chief architect of the disengagement plan, said: “Frankly, I don’t know what would be the political solution that would enable [Sharon] to move forward [with the plan], if such a solution can be found.”[6]

But such brash truth telling, was at cross-purposes with U.S. diplomatic requirements that demanded a more comforting cover story. Thus, on June 6, 2004, Sharon engineered a 14-7 cabinet vote in favor of his proposal. Even so, the approved plan included “contradictory language about the evacuation of Jewish settlements.” Disengagement from Gaza was approved but there was no decision to dismantle the Jewish communities there.[7] In order to enable this sleight of hand in plain sight, Sharon was forced to pay a political prince, effectively narrowing his parliamentary majority down to 62 of the Knesset’s 120 members. Two members of Sharon’s coalition quit, Effic Eitam of the National Religious Party (NRP) and Likud member, Yitzhak Levy, the deputy social affairs minister. A few days earlier, when it appeared that otherwise Sharon would narrowly lose a 12-11 vote, he dismissed two extreme right wingers from his cabinet: Transport Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Tourism Minister Benny Elon.

But compared to his achievements, Sharon’s parliamentary losses are marginal, especially since his attorney general has cleared him of corruption charges. Relieved of this pressure, Sharon was able to regain the initiative in his negotiations with Labor and if he decides to include them in his government, clearly it will be on his terms. In addition, Sharon has deflected any serious criticism from Washington. At least through the U.S. election season, the likelihood that he will experience any pressure to advance the peace process or to negotiate with the Palestinians is close to zero. Moreover Sharon’s program of devastation in the West Bank and Gaza continues, as he shrewdly continues to increase the military pressure on the Palestinians in such a way as to keep the violence below a critical threshold to minimize any international criticism.

The propaganda campaign continues

In early June Israel announced that it would offer compensation to Jewish settlers who are willing to pull out of Gaza. Settlers were given a September 1, 2005 deadline to leave voluntarily. If they don’t leave, according to the announcement, the Israeli army, would then evacuate any remaining settlers by September 15th. Each of the evacuated families would receive an average of $300,000 according to press reports.

Once again, this new compensation initiative seems merely a public relations move to satisfy the U.S., Arab leaders and the international community. The latest plan puts off the date of settler evacuation until September 2005, almost a year after the U.S. presidential elections. (An earlier deadline had been set at March 2005.) Moreover, it was announced that the withdrawal will take place in four stages, with each stage requiring a positive vote in the cabinet. It’s not difficult to imagine that those votes will come out the way Sharon decides they should.

As far as compensation for those settlers who voluntarily choose to leave, if payments are eventually made, it’s not unlikely that the U.S. will find a way to pick up a large proportion of the tab, resulting in a win-win situation for Israel. Even as Israel continues to pour money into the Gaza settlements, some Israelis would receive payments to relocate elsewhere (perhaps temporarily?) while Sharon’s government will find ways to postpone indefinitely the removal of the Gaza settlements.

It’s all in the fine print

The details of the June 6 revision of the disengagement plan confirm that no actual removal of settlers is mandated, or even allowed. Tanya Reinhardt referenced two articles in Ha’aretz detailing the changes that emphasize, “the decision does not allow for the dismantling of settlements.” Special roadblocks to removing settlers are created, especially one that forces the prime minister to return for another positive cabinet vote should he wish to begin the evacuation process. Moreover, when this cabinet discussion takes place, the members are enjoined to take “into account the circumstances at the time.” According to reporter Aluf Ben, “this phrasing was the key to the compromise that was reached.” In addition, “A softening of the timetable was adopted whereby the government merely ‘stated its intention’ to complete the evacuation by 2005, instead of the previous: "the process of evacuation was to be completed by the end of 2005.”

Ben also reported that the freeze on construction in the Gaza settlements was significantly watered down. Under the guise of an allowance for the “support for the needs of daily life,” virtually no restriction are placed on the resources that could continue to pour into the settlements. And to emphasize that the revised Sharon plan would not interfere with current and future plans for the expansion of the Gaza settlements, the Knesset also removed any and all bans on construction permits and leasing of lands for the Gaza settlements. [8]

In this election season, the Bush administrations as well as prospective Democratic nominee John Kerry seem more than ever subservient to Israeli wishes. The same can be said for the U.S. Congress, unable to voice even the smallest protest against the assassination of the top Palestinian political leadership in Gaza in March and April. In late June, both houses of Congress, acknowledged the power of the Zionist lobby with lop sided majorities voting for resolutions strongly endorsing President Bush’s giveaway to Sharon. Absent the kind of pressure only two presidents, Eisenhower and Carter, were able to mount to force Israel to return captured Arab territory, it’s hard to see what motive Sharon would have for displacing settlers he has worked so diligently to implant. It’s true that American interests vis à vis the Arab and Muslim community would be served if some positive movement regarding Israeli settlers, not to mention negotiating with the Palestinians, could be offered. But Sharon understands as well as any previous Israeli leader that it is not his job to please the Americans. It’s their job to please him.

The End

[1] See

[2] April 8, 2004, quoted in Middle East International, No. 723, April 16, 2004.

[3] Tanya Reinhart, “Sharon's ‘Disengagement’ from Gaza, March 30th, 2004,

[4] Yediot Achronot, April 20, 2004, Tanya Reinhart, translated by Netta Van Vliet.

[5] New York Times, April 3, 2004. James Bennett, “Sharon Says He Has Ordered a Halt to Gaza Development.”

[6] Forward, May 14, 2004. Ori Nir. “White House Pressures Sharon on Disengagement Plan,”

[7] Washington Post, June 7, 2004. Robin Shulman, “Compromise Plan on Gaza Approved by Israeli Cabinet.”

[8] Yediot Achronot, June 8, 2004. Tanya Reinhardt, “The address for protest is Labor’s headquarters.” Ha’aretz, June 7, 2004. Aluf Ben, Gideon Alon, and Nathan Guttman, “Disengagement is on its way.” Ha’aretz, June 7. Aluf Ben, “What’s been approved and what’s been changed.”