Well, it is Passover.
Sharon is recommending a postponement of the pullout by 3 weeks, which is driving the Haaretz writers to go ballistic that he’s been lying about his intentions all along and will never actually pull out. Alternatively, they complain that every delay weakens Abbas. 🙄
Meanwhile, the Gazan Israelis are speaking to the government about options. One idea they’ve been floating is that they’ll move en masse to an area near the ocean called Nitzanim. While Sharon seems to be interested in this option, he is meeting with some fierce resistance.
Now, nobody knows whether the old general is letting the protesters do his job for him while he comes off looking as if he is a supporter and friend to the settlers whom he is forcing to leave, but in effect these groups are killing the possibility of the Nitzanim move.
Plan B for the settlers has apparently come up now and it is to move to Afula, near the beautiful Jezreel Valley. This plan contains a goodie in that they may get an additional $30,000 per family for populating the Galilee. I say it’s worth it since they will do much good there and Zionism in the Galilee is more vibrant and necessary than settling in Gaza (or parts of the West Bank for that matter).
On the other hand, Amir Oren makes a good point that the settlers have already been subsidized for years. They are now going to be compensated for their departure and the estimated cost of the disengagement is 8 billion shekels (around US $1.7-1.8 billion, I think). This, he points out, amounts to 1 million shekels (US $220,000) per man, woman, and child. He comments that the settlers are demanding certain value for their property even though their homes and districts have already received subsidies that mean their cost for the property was lower than their claims.
As Plan B in Afula suggests, that number could go up by another $30,000 per family which would increase costs by another 250,000,000 shekels (US $55-60 million ). Nobody is saying whether all these expenses include the cost of adding detention facilities for protesters.
Now lest anyone think this is over, it seems far from it. Three months before the disengagement, there are growing communities in Gaza as people who oppose the pullout (or maybe think they can get some government compensation?) move their families into new neighborhoods (the image shows a banner that reads “With faith we shall win”). Roadblocks and attempted roadblocks around Israel, put together by teenagers whose parents oppose the pullout and feel comfortable letting the kids do the dirty work of opposition, are continuing apace; a low level of fighting between IDF and Palestinians is ongoing and could boil over any day; many rumors of extensive arms smuggling by Palestinians in light of the “lull” are being discussed openly; as is the arrival into Palestinian arms of Strela shoulder held missiles that can shoot down civilian aircraft.
Also, in light of the upcoming pullout, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz has ordered the IDF, partially at the suggestion of staunch Rightist Effi Eitam, to disarm the Gazan Israelis. He certainly isn’t winning points for this but they are hosting him on a visit to Gaza tomorrow. That says something about civility, I guess.
And speaking of civility, in an impressive gesture that shows that Passover is when we are reminded that not only did our forefathers escape slavery thanks to God, but also when they given the Torah and the Commandments, a group of teachers from Gush Etzion (outside the Green Line, but a very unlikely candidate for evacuation of Israelis at any time in the future) have put together a list of commandments to teach the teenager youth among the settlers. The commandments these teachers put together are intended to provide the kids with a favorable understanding of democracy and activism within a democracy. Seriously impressive stuff! Here’s some of it:
– I shall participate in a demonstration under the slogan “No Disengagement” only when its organizers do everything to ensure the demonstration follows democratic protest norms: legal demonstrations approved by the police; non-violent civil disobedience.
– I shall not offend those opposed to my positions.
– I shall work to educate children, teenagers and yeshiva students toward democratic struggle, without physical or verbal violence.
– I shall not use slurs against the prime minister, branches of government or members of the security forces.
– I shall not act in a violent manner against a soldier, police officer or member of the security forces in any place and under any circumstance.
– I shall not interfere in the private lives of security personnel and shall not try to disrupt the lives of opponents or passersby.
– Children under age 12 will not take part in demonstrations or activities that could become confrontational with soldiers or police.
– I shall not urge soldiers, police or other security personnel to refuse orders, or refrain from activities decreed by the IDF and security forces following government and Knesset decisions.
– I shall do everything in my power to ensure that government and Knesset decisions are reached by democratic and proper procedures and faithfully reflect the people’s will.
A lesson in democracy and humility for us all. By the way, these good people are the “settlers” that so many people around the world consider evil people. I guess the world is full of shades other than black and white.