So Condi Rice stayed around in Israel an extra day to apply pressure on the Israelis to compromise with the Palestinians regarding passage into and out of Gaza. Since Israel’s unilateral exit out of Gaza, there has been an unofficial stream of people and, uh, things in and out of Gaza. However, officially and practically, it remains difficult to move things and people in and out of Gaza, hence the ongoing discussions between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
In truth, the Israelis’ leverage wasn’t all that great because they are no longer in there and have successfully lobbied the world to recognize their departure as a conclusion to the occupation of Gaza. As a result, the Palestinians were able to demand control of entry and exit points from Gaza. Of course, the Israelis are concerned about these entry and exit points because instead of things, like, you know, food, the Palestinians might expend their resources procuring weapons. As talks progressed, the Israelis abandoned hope of controlling the crossing and instead agreed to allow EU monitors to guard the border crossings.
Well, the EU, true to form, indicated that they would monitor but refuse to actively control the border; the Palestinians ought to do this according to the enlightened Europeans. The Palestinians, of course, agree with this and demand that as “sovereigns” they should control these crossings. So it came down to the issue of monitoring via cameras, and the Israelis agreed to a situation where they monitor along with EU monitors while Palestinians actually control the crossing. If the Israelis see something amiss, they can have the EU monitors demand of the Palestinians not to allow the person or thing to go through the crossing.
Yup, not exactly reassuring.
What is worse, however, is that the agreement also opens the door to a much larger number of trucks that may enter and leave Gaza, while the time spent checking them is to be minimized. The final part of the deal is that access points between Gaza and the West Bank will now be opened to Palestinian traffic.
Did I mention that the Palestinians get to build a sea port?
Here, you can read some detail in this article.
Netanyahu spoke out strongly today against the access granted between Gaza and the West Bank. In what is surely a no-brainer, he predicts that arms will be smuggled into the West Bank and will threaten Israeli communities, not to mention airplanes taking off at Ben Gurion Airport. He predicts a stream of smuggled weapons that will eventually enter Gaza through the new sea port and end up threatening Israeli lives inside the Green Line, not to mention outside of it.
He warned the access links would enable large quantities of weapons from Gaza to enter the West Bank, including Qassam rockets and mortar shells. From the West Bank, they would be fired at Israel, he said.
“You can’t treat the Palestinian Authority like a properly run state. It’s a failing regime that does not fight terror, and the security ring around it cannot be loosened,” Netanyahu said.
What can one say other than he’s right? He’s right. It’s so clear that he’s right, that it’s difficult to understand how the Sharon government failed to stand up to the American pressure to close the deal whatever it takes. The Palestinians are still at war with Israel; they have not made any attempt to stop the terror groups or disarm them; the PA itself collaborates with Fatah, that also launches attacks against Israel; Palestinian leaders continue to praise the supposed efficacy and heroism of terrorism; every Palestinian leader has come out and listed Jerusalem and “right” of return as non-negotiable national objectives.
So if the Palestinians remain at war, despite the possibility of terminating the war, why give them the means to take the war to the West Bank? If they want access in and out of Gaza, why not wait until after their elections to see what happens? Will they disarm militant and terror groups or not? Will they seek peace or not? If they don’t, then they don’t deserve to control means of increasing their arms stockpiles. This is very simple and Israel is making a terrible mistake in allowing American pressure to force its hand. Mofaz is already talking about early warning systems for rockets coming in from the West Bank. Um, those systems are useless other than providing a short warning period. They don’t prevent the attacks. If the Minister of Defense knows the attacks are coming, why propose a leaky band-aid, when you could simply avoid the dangerous event to begin with?
By the way, all the anti-disengagement people can save their energy and protests – leaving Gaza was one thing and had nothing to do with providing the Palestinians with the means to attack Israel from the West Bank. It remains the right thing to have done.