Israel’s foreign minister Silvan Shalom says he favors scrapping the withdrawal of Jews from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank if Hamas wins control of the Palestinian parliament. Hamas continues to call for the destruction of Israel, making it easy to understand Shalom’s position. However, Prime Minister Sharon rejects this view. I assume (or at least hope) that this is because Sharon doesn’t view the wisdom of the pull-out as contingent on a peace process. Rather, I think he sees it as a strategic move that’s in Israel’s interest even if peace never comes.
I understand this position too, but find it unrealistic. Israel will never be far from a “peace process,” and it should therefore always evaluate its actions in terms of how it relates to that process. (Indeed, as Shalom notes, if Hamas gains more political power the EU soon will be pressuring Israel to negotiate with them, as the representatives of the Palestinians). In this context, there’s no point in making concessions in exchange for nothing, especially at a time when anti-Israeli extremists are making major political gains.
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