Sunday, May 29, 2005

Gush ad on Gaza Disengagement -- A Planned Mess

G u s h S h a l o m - pob 3322, Tel-Aviv 61033, Israel

עברית בהמשך


A year after the decision to evacuate 1700 settler families from the Gaza Strip, nothing is ready. The building of new homes for them has not even begun.

At the same time, the government is building with great energy thousands of housing units for the West Bank settlers.

Conclusion: The fiasco of the resettlement of the Gush Katif settlers is a planned failure. Sharon wants to create the impression that the evacuation of the small settlements in Gaza is a huge undertaking, straining his capabilities to the utmost, so that no one should even dream of evacuating 200 thousand settlers from the West Bank.

That is a false presentation.

When Israel will reach the conclusion that all the occupied territories must be evacuated, it will be equal to the test. The sooner this happens, the easier and cheaper it will be.

The continuation of the occupation will be by far more expensive.

G u s h S h a l o m
ad in Ha'aretz, May 27, 2005

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Bleier and Ha'aretz on the Disengagement Charade

Subject: Bleier and Ha'retz on the Disengagement Charade

My article on "Sharon's Disengagement Charade: A Screen for Oppression," is available now on Left Curve's website.

As the Ha'aretz article below points out, Sharon's intent is to keep the mass evacuation of Gaza settlers always on the horizon, but never any closer. This tactic has worked brilliantly for him for more than a year. He does nothing and gets everything, including a sympathetic press concerned that he may be the object of an assassination attempt. The media misses the point that since Sharon is on the side of the most rabid settlers, they have no reason to kill him, unlike Rabin, who was actually giving up tiny portions of territory to Palestinian autonomy. --Ronald Bleier

w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m

Last update - 01:51 10/05/2005
The evacuation is only on the horizon
By Amir Oren

A senior general staff officer involved in the planning of the evacuation of Gaza was surprised to hear from a civilian last week asking what would happen after Tisha B'Av. As every year, the yeshiva students would go on their three-week summer vacation, but unlike every other year, this year they will use the leisure time to hook up with the disengagement opponents. There will be several hundred, maybe a few thousands, from the hesder yeshivot, who are like Nahal soldiers. The army could call them up for active service (or cancel the arrangement with their yeshiva and thus worsen their military service conditions), but it's doubtful they will obey their commander if his orders clash with the rabbis'.

After Tisha B'Av was discovered as a date that could postpone the disengagement, that new bit of information will no doubt be entered as data in the equation to waste all of August. Then, with the agreement of the teachers unions, the school year will begin, and it is inconceivable that the babes of the rabbis should have their holy studies interrupted.

Behind the sudden wrapping in the tallit, like behind the discovery that the demolition of the settlers houses and the evacuation of the rubble would very much extend the evacuation, there lurks a stubborn suspicion that the government of Ariel Sharon, with Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz in the role of Dov Weissglas' arm, is maneuvering to turn the evacuation into a horizon - always there, approached but never quite reached.

The longer the execution of the evacuation is delayed, the intensity of the vow in its name will increase. It won't be canceled, just its timing will go through occasional updating, from time to time, as required by developments on the ground, keeping in mind the rulings of the religious teachers of our era.

When Mofaz found out, from a conversation with rabbis, the meaning of the days between the 17 of Tamuz and the 9 of Av, he recommended to Sharon a postponement of the evacuation. That is the division of labor between them, just as it was in the days when Mofaz was chief of staff. Mofaz knows what he is supposed to recommend, and Sharon, in his generosity, accepts the recommendation.

Soldiers are told that they cannot deviate from the chain of command and obey instructions from another authority, a rabbinical one in this case; but the head of the chain of command accepts with surrender, and perhaps love, such instructions, for extraneous reasons. Sharon cannot cancel the evacuation, lest he ignite George Bush's rage. But nor can he actually go through with it. That's the perfect situation as far as he is concerned: an eternal limbo, an evacuation that neither lives nor dies.

The Labor Party is in the government on condition: as a subcontractor for the dismantling of settlements and with the declared intention to quit at the end of the disengagement and force early elections to the Knesset. The longer the delay in the evacuation - as long as it is not actually shelved - Labor will be imprisoned in the government and will reach the fall of 2006 without being able to offer an alternative to Sharon.

Sharon is at a disadvantage inside the Likud against the disengagement opponents, headed by Benjamin Netanyahu. Given the winding ways of politics, that might be a fluid and reversible situation, but if Hamas takes over Gaza and terror is renewed the day after the withdrawal, Sharon will be defeated in any internal competition for the party leadership. He'll be like Peres in the 1996 elections, after handing over the Palestinian towns to the Palestinian Authority, the elections there and the terror attacks of February-March that followed.

It would be best for Sharon if the elections took place before the evacuation and not after. Without batting an eye, Sharon will contradict his previous arguments and explain that he was persuaded that the demand to go to the people to let them make such a fateful decision is just and proper.

Sharon, as he said on Sunday, won't give up the role of being the one to call Pini Gershon after the next championship. On the eve of Independence Day, his Ben-Gurionesque dream finally came true, to be both prime minister and defense minister. The man who has the other title never had an original thought and maybe it's best that way. Mofaz is just a feeble chorus for Sharon, an echo and not the head.


Friday, May 06, 2005

T.Reinhart (4/05) Behind the Smoke Screen of the Gaza Pullout

Once again, Tanya Reinhart points to evidence that the Gaza disengagement will not happen. She points out again that no compensation has been paid to the settlers, so none can leave. Here she presents new information indicating that the Disengagment is conditional on the completion of the Wall, which might take the rest of this year, postponing the evacuations even further. Also she points out that Sharon's preparations for the Disengagement (as to be expected) are remarkably inefficient, as opposed to his efficiency in setting up infrastructure and settlements on the West Bank.

Note to those interested. If you click on the link, you will see some of the accompanying photos, including a dramatic one of the Wall in the West Bank. --RB

Behind the smoke screen of the Gaza pullout
Tanya Reinhart, The Electronic Intifada, 19 April 2005

Ariel Sharon travelled to the United States as a hero of peace, as if he had already evacuated Gaza and only the follow-up remained to be worked out. What has completely disappeared from the public agenda is what is happening, meanwhile, in the West Bank. The media continue to deluge us daily with disengagement storms, like the Nitzanim bubble. But for now the disengagement exists only on paper. On the ground, no settler has yet received compensation. Even those who agreed to accept compensation are now waiting, because if they have a chance to get Nitzanim settlement on Gaza's beach — the pearl of Israeli real estate — why hurry?

In the meantime, three and a half months before the projected date of evacuation, it is still not clear where the evacuees will be housed until the discussions regarding their final relocation destination are concluded. Contrary to the prevailing impression, no infrastructure has been set up even for their temporary dwellings.

On 8 April 2005, Ofer Petersburg reported in Yediot Ahronot that "The Settlement Department of the Jewish Agency, responsible for providing the 'caravillas' [the caravans that were supposed to host the evacuated settlers temporarily] has so far received no order from the government."

If Sharon intends to evacuate the Gaza settlements, he is doing so with outrageous inefficiency. He is far more efficient in the West Bank. There, plans are carried out precisely as scheduled. Right from the start, during the first agreements between Sharon and Netanyahu one year ago about the disengagement plan, it was agreed that the disengagement would not be put into effect before the separation fence was completed on the western side of the West Bank.[1]

Indeed, the construction of the wall is moving towards completion. In July, which is the announced date for the beginning of the Gaza evacuation, the wall surrounding East Jerusalem and cutting it off from the West Bank, will be in place. The Palestinians who live there will be able to leave only with permits. The centre of life in the West Bank will become an enclosed prison. As well, the northern wall, which has already imprisoned the residents of Tulkarem, Qalqilya and Mas'ha, and which has robbed them of their land, continues to advance southwards. Now the bulldozers are headed for the land of Bil'in and Safa, bordering the settlements of Modi'in Elit. The farmers who are losing their land are trying to stand their ground, together with Israeli opponents of the wall. But who will hear about their sufferings and their struggle amidst the tumult over the disengagement?

The disengagement plan was born in February 2004, at the height of a wave of international criticism over the wall and on the eve of the opening of deliberations at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. In the ruling that was handed down in July, the Court determined that the route of the wall was a blatant and serious violation of international law. Moreover, the court indicated that there was a danger of "a further change in the demographic composition as a result of the departure of the Palestinian population from certain areas" (at para 122). In other words, the court warned of a process of transfer.

According to United Nations data, 237,000 Palestinians will be trapped between the wall and the Green Line and 160,000 others will remain on the Palestinian side, cut off from their land. The route that was approved at the government's meeting in February 2005 reduces their number only slightly.[2]

What is to be expected for those people, for the farmers who lose their land, for the imprisoned who are cut off from their families and their livelihoods? In the ghost towns of Tulkarem and Qalqilya and the villages around Mas'ha, many have already left in order to seek subsistence on the edges of towns in the centre of the West Bank. How much longer will the others be able to hold on under conditions of despair and atrophy, inside villages which have become prisons?

"Transfer" is associated in the collective memory with trucks arriving at night to take Palestinians across the border, as occurred in some places in 1948. But behind the smoke screen of disengagement, a process of slow and hidden transfer is being carried out in the West Bank today. It is not easy to judge which method of "transferring" people from their land is more cruel. Nearly 400,000 people, about half the number of Palestinians who were forced to leave their land in 1948, are now candidates for "voluntary emigration" to refugee camps in the West Bank. And all this is currently being passed over in silence because maybe Sharon will disengage.

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, from which this article was excerpted from an updated chapter. This article first appered in Yediot Aharonot on 13 April 2005 and was translated from Hebrew by Mark Marshall.

1. For example, some reports from April last year:

"The prime minister took a commitment that the separation fence will be completed before evacuation starts... Security echelons estimate that the fence can be completed at the earliest towards the end of 2005. In other words: it is possible that Israel will not be able to complete the evacuation at the date that was promised to the US" (Yosi Yehushua, Yediot Aharonot, 19 April 2004).

"Netanyahu announced that he intends to support the disengagement after the three conditions he posed were met ...[including] completion of the fence before the evacuation" (Itamar Eichner and Nehama Duek, Yediot Aharonot, 19 April 2004).

2. These figures are from the ICJ advisory opinion of July 9. Similar figures were provided in the Israeli media — for example, Meron Rappaport, Yediot Aharonot, 23 May 2003; Akiva Eldar, Ha'aretz, 16 February 2004. The new line of the barrier as approved by the Israeli cabinet on 20 February 2005 reduces the size of Palestinian land to be annexed by the barrier by 2.5%, mainly in the Southern Hebron area, where work is only starting (so the barrier route can still change many times as the work progresses). There were smaller adjustments in other areas, dictated by decisions of the Israeli Supreme Court, which means that some of the encircled villages should get some of their land back. But this does not effect the total number of Palestinians encircled by the wall. In Khirbet Jbara in the Tulkarm Governorate, the cabinet approved moving a 6km section of the barrier closer to the Green Line. As a result, the Palestinian population in this area will no longer be located in a completely closed area, but rather on the West Bank side of the barrier. This will reduce the overall Palestinian population completely isolated from the West Bank by about 340 persons, according to UN OCHA report of March 2005 on the preliminary analysis of the effects of the new wall route approved in February 2005 (