Tuesday, August 2

After the Pullout - What Then?

At this time and place, not much thought given for the future. This applies to both Israelis and the Palestinians. There does not seem to be any "contingency plans" on either side. Is there any cause for cautious optimism? The Palestinian side is in disarray. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority chairman, has not given any indications as to what will be done with the territories that the Palestinians will acquire after disengagement. Israel has not given any indication as to what plans she has for her citizens either.

All that remains is speculation. The territories vacated by Israel could fall into the hands of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and their terrorist allies. This would bring terror closer to Israeli towns such as Ashkelon and possibly Ashdod. Mahmoud Abbas will do very little to reign in the terror. He has done nothing in the past and there is no sign that the future will be any different. The settlers will not be in Gush Katif anymore and this will make the situation less complicated when it comes to defending Israel's borders.

It is quite possible that Israel will return to the Gaza Strip because of terror attacks against her from the Palestinian terror groups. The possibility of returning to square one is high.

However, if by some miracle, the pullout is peaceful, Israel's standing in the world will rise. The world of nations will view Israel in a positive light because of her attempts to end the occupation. This could result in weakening of support for the Palestinian position. Israel will also have to change her attitude towards the Palestinians and help them economically by encouraging investment in the territories as well as joint Palestinian-Israel economic, education and health projects. This is dependent on a cessation of Palestinian violence against Israel.

There has been gross neglect in Israel in the social and economic sphere because of the pre-disengagement tactics of the government. After the disengagement, the government must be more active in improving education, lowering the crime rate, which has increased at an alarming rate, as well as encourage projects for Israel's economy. Unemployment has become a very serious problem as well as salary erosion. The government has to address very serious problems. Polarization because of the disengagement has to be rectified by encouraging dialogue between the anti- and pro-disengagement parties. There should be emphasis on the fact that Israelis are still one people despite their political and religious differences. It is important that a healing process has to follow between the two sides and the settlers who have returned must be encouraged to be part of the rebuilding of trust between the opposing sides.

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