A newly-announced ‘Disengagement Plan’ by the ruling Israeli Kadima party is in fact a ruse, designed to distract the international community away from the fact that Israel is taking over nearly one-quarter of the Palestinian West Bank, and surrounding the rest with a Wall, say Palestinian leaders.
With Israeli elections right around the corner, some analysts have surmised that the Kadima party’s announcement of ‘unilateral disengagement’ is a publicity stunt to garner support for the Kadima party, a party perceived by the Israeli public as being "weak" on terrorism since Prime Minister Ariel Sharon fell into a coma last month.
Since the Hamas party won the majority of seats in Palestinian legislative elections on January 25th, Israeli authorities have pressured the party to adhere to the ‘roadmap’ peace plan and recognize Israel. But Israeli leadership has ignored the fact that Israel has committed violations of the ‘roadmap to peace’ at a rate of 300 to 1 more than Palestinian violations, according to Israeli human rights groups. Over 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since a ceasefire declared last February. In contrast, Hamas has claimed the killing of one Israeli settler in September, its only violation of the ceasefire, which it has offered to extend for another year.
An editorial in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz Tuesday noted that the proposed ‘unilateral withdrawal’ is in fact no such thing, as it annexes large parts of the West Bank for Israel. "Avi Dichter, one of Kadima’s senior members, talks of the Hebron-Kiryat Arba bloc, the Karnei Shomron-Kedumim bloc, the Ofra-Beit El bloc and three other blocs that would not be evacuated. This is not a withdrawal and it is not even worth discussing: It is merely talk about ending the occupation without ending it. Simple fairness requires presenting a withdrawal plan that does not remove people from their houses in dribs and drabs, but rather makes the 1967 borders its basis, along with those adjustments required by genuine necessity – not by ‘facts on the ground’ established in error. "
A spokesperson for the Palestinian President criticized the new ‘unilateral’ Kadima plan as a violation of the internationally-sponsored Road Map peace plan and called upon the Quartet to halt such policies which will do nothing to bring peace and stability to the region.
Avi Dichter, security advisor to acting Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, made clear that the plan is merely a re-shuffling of Israeli settler populations from one part of the West Bank to another, not a pull-out. "All these territories, these Israeli settlements, will remain in the hands of the Israel Defence Forces and the security services", said Dichter Monday.
Dichter said Israeli forces would remain in these areas "until the Palestinian Authority will be a partner" that Israel can negotiate with.
Saeb Erikat, the Palestinian negotiator, said the plan "will only add to complications, this would mean dictation rather than negotiations".
Criticising the proposal, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Israel’s goal was to "force unilateral measures and create new facts on the ground."
The right-wing settlers and their supporters in Israel are also angry at the prospect of giving up West Bank land they see as a biblical birthright. The World Court has ruled that all the settlements Israel has built on occupied land are illegal.