To great international fanfare, Israel this week began its pull-out from the Gaza Strip.
It is forcing its 8,000 illegal settlers to relocate, offering them substantial compensation to do so. While politicians and the press heap praise on Israeli war criminal premier Sharon’s apparent conversion to the peace process, the real meaning of Israel’s move should be clear.
The frequently applied term “disengagment” is a misnomer if it implies that Israel will no longer control the 1.3 million Palestinians in Gaza. While the settlers may go, the army will encircle the area, retaining control over all borders and crossing-points, isolating the Gaza Strip and converting it into a vast prison.
The pull-out is taking place because Gaza had become a liability, expensive to police just to protect a mere 8,000 out of a total of 400,000 settlers.
And it is a smokescreen to hide the consolidation of Israel’s control over the West Bank. The Israeli cabinet recently approved a plan to complete Israel’s apartheid wall in East Jerusalem by the end of this month while the world’s attention is focused on Gaza.
Israel’s pull-out should be seen not as a contribution to the peace process but as a further nail in the coffin of a Palestinian state.
Nor should we forget that while the attention is on 8,000 settlers, the fate of 4.9 million Palestinian refugees is the real question.