Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told a group of Palestinian youths in Gaza City on Saturday that the small jihad (holy war) has ended and that the big jihad has begun to rebuild the economy and restore security and public order.
“We want our people in a century’s time to live a normal life like any other people in the world,” Abbas said. “Therefore the next battle will be the real battle.”
Abbas announced that he had signed a decree that would give the PA control over all lands and assets that are evacuated by Israel in the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank.
…On Friday, Abbas made his first visit to the international airport in the southern Gaza Strip, where he declared that the disengagement was the fruit of the sacrifices of Palestinian “martyrs.”
“We must remember that our achievements are the result of the sacrifices of the martyrs,” he told thousands of supporters who gathered to greet him. “The martyrs have paved the road for us.
“The sacrifices of the martyrs, the wounded and the detainees, made the occupation leave Gaza and evacuate the settlements. “This step will be followed by further withdrawals from the West Bank and Jerusalem.”
…But in a new challenge to Abbas, dozens of Hamas gunmen held a press conference in one of the main squares of Gaza City on Saturday, where they announced that they would continue to launch terror attacks on Israel even after the disengagement. PA policemen who arrived at the scene did not intervene.
“This retreat does not mean the end of our battle, but it is the beginning,” said one of the Hamas gunmen, who identified himself as Abu Obaidah. “Our battle with the enemy is long and will continue.”
He said Hamas would not surrender its weapons until all Palestinian lands were liberated. “We will keep all our weapons and we will even develop them,” he said. “The weapons of the resistance are pure and clean and we won’t remain idle in the face of continued occupation and the desecration of our holy sites.”
Musa Abu Marzouk, the No 2 man in Hamas, also announced that his movement would continue the fight against Israel after the disengagement. In an interview with the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Abu Marzouk said: “This withdrawal does not mean the end of occupation. There is still the West Bank and Jerusalem. Gaza is only a small part of occupied Palestine. As long as the occupation continues, we won’t lay down our weapons.”
Israel pulling back from Gaza is just plain foolish. They have achieved nothing but embolding their enemy, just as Clinton did to Osama after Somalia. David Frum has an interesting take tho: (h/t Small Dead Animals)
Why is Ariel Sharon evacuating Gaza?
It is not because he believes that a decent Palestinian state will emerge after the Israelis withdraw. Nobody believes that. The almost universal consensus among experts on the region is that post-occupation Gaza will became a Mediterranean Somalia: an unstable failed state in which gangs compete for power and extremist Islam finds a sanctuary.
Nor was Sharon responding to international pressure. His plan for unilateral evacuation surprised and displeased the United States and the European countries. They wanted Sharon to negotiate with Abbas. They wanted the deal to involve all the Palestinian territories, not just Gaza. And they wanted the whole thing to happen very, very slowly.
…After the experience of the 1990s, few people retain an illusions about the likely character of any Palestinian state. The Palestinian leadership is corrupt through and through. The only effective opposition to that leadership is violent and extremist. Palestinian public opinion utterly rejects coexistence with Israel. A Palestinian state, whatever its borders, will wage terror war against Israel ? and give sanctuary to Islamic extremists from around the world. It will murder Israelis and threaten the security of Europeans and Americans.
European and American political leaders recognize this depressing fact. But they also recognize that Palestine issue has excited passions throughout the Muslim world ? and among Muslim minorities in the West. These leaders believe that if they want to quell Muslim extremism, they must be seen to work toward the creation of a Palestinian state.
In Charles Dickens? novel David Copperfield there is a character who answers every request with a sigh: Ah, if it were up to him, he would of course say ?yes? with pleasure ? but his partner, Mr. Jorrocks,* is so very difficult ?.. In just such a way, European and American political leaders favor a ?peace process? that moves the Palestinians ever closer to statehood, without ever quite reaching it; a process that positions the Israelis as the Mr. Jorrocks of the world.
Ariel Sharon has decided to put an end to this play.
The world wants a Palestinian state? Very well ? let them have it. And the result, as we are seeing, is something close to panic in the foreign ministries of the West. Not just the West: the Middle East too. The Egyptians do not want a Hamas state on their borders. They had expected Ariel Sharon to place a cordon between Egypt and Gaza. He has said he will not do so ? that he is leaving the job up to the Egyptians. And indeed last month Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz announced that 750 Egyptian soldiers would soon arrive to replace the Israeli Defense Forces.
Is this Egyptian role on the border a precursor to a larger Egyptian role within Gaza? Egypt after all remains far more vulnerable to Islamic extremist ideology than Israel. The Egyptian authorities have crushed the extremist movement within their borders. Do they wish to see a jihadist state emerge on their borders? It seems unlikely.
Could it be that Sharon is calling the bluff of Western governments and the Arab states? By creating the very Palestinian state that those governments and those states pretend to want but actually dread ? Sharon is forcing them to end their pretense and acknowledge the truth:
The Palestinian leadership is incapable of creating a state that can live at peace with anyone, not Israel, not the other Arab states, not Europe, not the world. Somebody else must govern the restless and violent Arab-majority territories west of the Jordan River. Israel has suffered four decades of condemnation for doing the job. Sharon is now resigning the task to anybody else who would like to step in and take over the job. Nobody wants to. But Egypt and Jordan may soon realize that they have no choice. If there is a secret behind Sharon?s plan ? that is it.
Interesting theory and could very well be Sharon’s end game plan.