Sunday, August 14, 2005

Like Nixon to China

Historical references abound today as Israel begins to "evacuate" thousands of people from its 21 settlements on the Gaza Strip. Four smaller settlements on the West Bank will be subsequently dismantled.

Joel Greenberg of the Trib provides an exhaustive report LINK, with several interesting excerpts about the dismantling of these settlements which have existed for nearly four decades.
"No Israeli government since 1967 has had the political will and ability to make such a decision about the future borders of Israel," said Shlomo Avineri, a political science scholar at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "A Rubicon will be crossed."

Shlomo even goes so far as to compare the actions of Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the notorious "Butcher of Beirut", to Richard Nixon going to China:

"The historical irony is that a step that is basically within the discourse of the left is being carried out by a right-wing leader," Avineri added, referring to Prime Min ister Ariel Sharon. "It is as significant as Richard Nixon going to China."

What's troubling is that this might just be another false start down the "road map" to peace:

But the move, known as the disengagement, is fraught with uncertainty. There is no telling whether it will lead to renewed peace negotiations and further Israeli withdrawals in the West Bank or further violence and stalemate.

"What will happen will depend on two factors: whether disengagement will pass peacefully within Israel and whether there will be more terrorism, which will make the argument against further disengagement very strong," Avineri said.

If anything, this withdrawal will provide a look into whether Mahmoud Abbas can rein in Palestinian militants effectively enough for significant progress to be made. Let's hope he can.


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