The story brewing in Israel

is that the Sharon government is about to unilaterally withdraw from portions of the West Bank. The indications of such a pullback consist of rumblings and rumors, and, perhaps most notably, the fact that Sharon is apparently negotiating with members of the Labor party about the possibility of them joining his government. The speculation is that he will need these Laborites to replace those who bolt when the anticipated withdrawal is announced.
All of this is explained in this rabidly anti-Sharon screed from Ha’aretz. The Ha’aretz piece speculates that the withdrawal will consist of nothing more than a “tactical pullback from a couple of outposts while pulling off a massive annexation of land in the West Bank.” Let’s hope that this is true.
However, David Ignatius of the Washington Post sees the prospect of a more significant withdrawal to “defensible borders,” perhaps defined by the security fence. Ignatius believes that, in the absence of a negotiated settlement, such a withdrawal is almost inevitable because (a) the present approach isn’t working and (b) without it Jews will soon be outnumbered by Palestinians in Greater Israel, enabling Arafat to call for “one man, one vote.”
I find Ignatius’ logic difficult to follow. To be sure, Israelis are subjected to horrible acts of terrorism under the status quo. But what reason is there to believe that a unilaterally Israeli pullback will end such acts? If anything, a pullback would likely embolden the terrorists and make it more difficult to combat them.
As for Ignatius’ second point, I have no idea whether Arafat will one day call for elections in “Greater Israel.” If he does, I am confident that Israel will respond with one word — no. I am similarly confident that Israel will not be fazed by the cluck-clucking (what else is new?) that will follow in Europe and at the U.S. Department of State.
Ignatius’ piece reminds me of something I heard Tom Friedman say. With furrowed brow, Friedman warned that if the status quo continues, our (Jewish) sons and daughters on college campuses will be placed in the uncomfortable position of having to defend Israel’s eventual refusal to hold elections in which Palestinians can participate. I don’t know about Friedman’s daughters, but I believe mine can handle this. In any event, I would like to think that Israel’s security trumps the debating success of my kids.


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