Jewish National Fund - We Only Have ONE ISRAEL

Shimon Peres: Disengagement!

by Gad Nahshon

Shimon Peres never rests. He helps the Israeli moderate left. Furthermore, this old politician is the chairman of the Labor Party. Peres moved to the left and said "goodbye" to hawkish policies many years ago. Some experts say that he does not represent the classical legacy of David Ben Gurion. Peres believes that he is the great leader of the Israeli left.

Recently, the irony of history manifested in Peres" support in the policy of... Ariel Sharon. Both adopted, in principle, the idea of disengagement with the Palestinian population. Peres supports any idea of evacuation from Gaza or the West Bank. Peres does believe in the existence of peace camps among the Palestinian leadership. He does support the legacy of the Oslo Accord or the so-called agreement.

The irony was featured recently in Tel-Aviv. Why? 120,000 demonstrators came to Rabin Circle to express their support in... Ariel Sharon"s approach to the crisis. Peres was there, together with his Labor"s members, members of the Histadruth. The activists of the Israeli left attended this massive rally. Leaders of "Peace Now" such as Prof. Gabia Golan were there. A new peace activist, Amy Eilon, ex-head of the Shabac, attended this rally. There are stories that even moderate Likudniks came to express their support for evacuation of 7,000 settlers who live in Gaza among more than 1 million Palestinians. Most of this population is poor and in the age group of under thirty!

Peres argued that Sharon"s disengagement will improve Israel"s security. The idea is that most Israelis do support Sharon"s plan! Peres argued that the 60,000 Likudniks who rejected Sharon"s plan are only a small minority in comparison to 6 million Israelis. The irony of history is that Peres and Sharon reduced the distance between their concept of future Israel. The irony is the fact that Sharon was a disciple of Ben Gurion. Ben Gurion admired the military leadership of Sharon. (Sharon was the legendary commander of Unit 101 whose legacy has contributed to the legacy of the Israeli army for many years).

Of course, the majority of the Likud disappointed Sharon who was a new "father" and achieved a victory in the national election. Sharon was shocked by the fact that only 33% of the Likud"s voters supported his bold plan in the streets of Gaza. Today we know that some settlers are willing to withdraw from Gaza. Peres supported Sharon. Some experts think that Sharon will build a new kind of political coalition: The Labor will join the government.

The situation is complicated. The Israeli army is doing their best in the Gaza Strip but 13 Israeli soldiers were killed. The question for Sharon and Peres is: Will disengagement improve the security of Israel? Palestinian"s sophisticated terrorists, Hamas or Jihad, can attack Israeli cities such as Ashkelon or Ashdod. Many people who rejected Sharon"s plan argued: The plan does not mobilize counterparts in the other side? The Palestinians did not promise a change in the relationship with Israel. They argued that when the army evacuated North-Lebanon without any agreement, the Palestinian related to it as an Israeli defeat. They said to themselves: The Israelis are simply running from us. Even experts such as Dr. Henry Kissinger wrote that Ehud Barak made a terrible mistake in this evacuation. Indeed, it had elements of mistake and the Hizbullah was the winner. We should stress the fact that the Hizbullah is also active in the Gaza Strip. It supports the high level of sophistication of the Palestinian terrorism. The terrorists were probably trained by Hizbullah"s experts of war and terror as well.

Israelis are in a state of crisis. What should be done? What policy should they follow? Also, there is always the issue of pressure by the United Nations, the International community, the "quartet", the Europeans and even this country. The hope is that President Bush will be re-elected as President. Bush, generally, supports Sharon"s policies. Of course, Israel is being attacked by the Jewish left who prefers Shimon Peres to Ariel Sharon.

Today, Israel must do anything to protect its national security. Israel needs integrated policies such as building its security fence. Ariel Sharon will find the answers to the questions. But the irony is that Peres stands, again, as a national leader.

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