I’m not a big fan of Ariel Sharon, but his diengagement policy is simply the most sensible policy for protecting Israel from terrorism. However, it appears that the Likud referendum on this policy has been soundly rejected in the polls, delivering a major blow to Sharon’s administration.
I believe this is a mistake. The settlers in Gaza and the West Bank have put themselves in an essentially undefendable position. It takes a large amount of resources to protect them, and the settlers have chosen to take an unacceptable risk to themselves and their families. They should have been compensated handsomely for their trouble, but leaving those settlements is tactically untenable.
The only way for Israel to protect itself was to pull out of those areas and let the Palestinians sort themselves out. The Palestinian Authority is heading directly towards a bloody civil war in which Fatah, Hamas, and the other groups vying for power in the West Bank and Gaza will eventually turn after each other once they realize that Israel was no longer a soft target.
By leaving the settlements intact, the Israeli people have given the terrorists a nice set of soft targets to attack, giving the terrorist groups something to focus in on rather than attacking each other. As Captain’s Quarter’s notes the Israelis have allowed the violence to continue indefinately.
It doesn’t help that a group of Hamas murderers shot a pregnant woman dead along with four of her children on the day of the referendum. Unfortunately, this decision will ensure that such attacks will only continue so long as those settlements exist.
Israel either must military invade the West Bank and Gaza and pacify the terrorists directly, an option that is extremely undesirable and dangerous, or wall off the West Bank and Gaza until the Palestinians either slaughter each other or come to their senses. Unfortunately the Israeli electorate just voted to have it both ways, which is only going to lead to the death of more innocent Israelis.