The Israeli government's plan to dismantle some Jewish settlements in the West Bank and redraw the country's borders is being shelved at least temporarily, a casualty of the war in Lebanon, government officials said.
The plan, which propelled Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to victory in March elections and was warmly endorsed by President Bush as a way of solving Israel's conflict with the Palestinians, is no longer a top priority, Olmert told his ministers last weekend, according to one of his advisers...
"I think that it is clear to everyone that the unilateral disengagement is a mistake," said Eli Yishai, minister of industry, trade and labor in Olmert's cabinet. "It's wrong to give up land unilaterally. It's clear to everyone that now it's canceled."
Not to split hairs, but withdrawal really means returning occupied land, not "giving up land" as Yishai attempts to argue. I have always viewed Israel's "unilateral" policies as flawed, in that it doesn't engage the Palestinians directly, but arbitrarily decides it own terms in a patriarchal manner that lacks respect. That criticism aside, Israel now appears poised to assure further agitation by abandoning withdrawal plans. What message does this send to Palestinians? Doesn't this policy play into the hands of Hamas? Tangible proof that Israel intends to occupy Palestinian land forever, which translates into the need for "resistance".
Now is the time to speed up withdrawal, remove some of the irritants that fester the wound. Instead, we see a hardening of positions that sends the wrong message and undermines the moderate Arab voice that argues for peaceful dialogue. I don't understand how the Israeli government doesn't see the longterm impact of its policies. Maybe it is time for the international community to demand a seat at the table and "unilaterally" decide on its own what is required to stop this endless cycle that effectively holds the world hostage. Neither side can be trusted to act in the best interest of the region, we need a detached voice to dictate the terms once and for all. The state of the world supersedes the state of Israel, everyone has a stake in the outcome, it's time we acted accordingly.