Natan Sharansky has quit the Israeli cabinet to protest Israel’s planned withdrawal from Gaza. Sharansky calls the withdrawal a “tragic mistake” that will encourage Palestinian violence. He believes that every concession that Israel makes must be accompanied by serious democratic reform on the Palestinian side. He finds no such reform that justifies the withdrawal from Gaza.
Sharansky is not infallible, but he is probably the most sagacious voice in Israeli politics today. President Bush, who is supporting and probably promoting Sharon’s concessions, has praised Sharansky’s theory that democracy provides the key to winning the war on terror. (Perhaps there’s a Bush corollary to the effect that democratic gestures provide the key to winning public relations wars).
But one need not consider the source to recognize the strength of Sharansky’s argument with respect to Gaza. It makes intuitive sense that any withdrawal by Israel not undertaken in exchange for something of major value is a win for the Palestinians and a defeat for Israel and, as such, can’t help but encourage additional violence by the Palestinians.
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