Victor Davis Hanson has an excellent analysis (via RCP) of the Gaza withdrawal.
The Israeli military is crafting defensible borders, not unlike the old Roman decision to stay on its own side of the Rhine and Danube Rivers. In Sharon's thinking, it no longer made any sense to periodically send thousands of soldiers into Gaza to protect fewer than 10,000 Israeli civilians abroad, when a demographic time bomb of too few Jews was ticking inside Israel proper.Do read the whole thing. I am pleased to find that my relatively optimistic view is shared by such an eminent historian and commentator.
But Gaza itself is only a tessera in a far larger strategic mosaic. The Israelis also press on with the border fence that will in large part end suicide bombings. The barrier will grant the Palestinians what they clamor for, but perhaps also fear: their own isolated state that they must now govern or let the world watch devolve into something like the Afghanistan of the Taliban.
Once Israel is out of Gaza and has fenced off slivers of the West Bank near Jerusalem deemed vital for its security, Sharon can bide his time until a responsible Palestinian government emerges as a serious interlocutor.
From their creepy rhetoric so far, Palestinian militias have proclaimed that Gaza is the first step toward the eventual destruction of Israel proper. But once again that only plays into Israel's complaint that withdrawal is seen by Palestinians as something to be manipulated rather than as an opportunity upon which to build a just society.
While there probably won't be a single Jew in the new Palestinian nation, there are more than 1 million Arabs inside Israel. Even more bizarrely, more than 100,000 illegal immigrants have left Arab lands to reside in the "Zionist entity." Politically correct Arabs will not even employ the word "Israel" in their lexicon, but tens of thousands of Arabs seem to want into it nonetheless.
In a reciprocal world, why couldn't the Jewish settlers stay on in Gaza as resident immigrants, adjudicating their property claims with the new government and freely abiding by Palestinian law and protocol? Sharon is reminding us that, unlike the Arabs inside Israel, they would be ethnically cleansed in hours in the same manner that nearly a million Jews were run out of Baghdad, Cairo, Damascus and Tripoli in the decades following 1947.
The pullout from Gaza is bringing long-needed moral clarity to a fuzzy crisis. Heretofore the Palestinians have counted on foreign support through fear of terrorism, influence with oil producers, unspoken anti-Semitism and carefully crafted victim status accorded savvy anti-Western zealots. But now they are increasingly on their own, and what transpires may soon end their romance of the perpetually oppressed.