Former Israeli envoy Zalman Shoval sums up the Gaza disaster in the Washington Times (thanks to Sr. Soph):
By the evening of September 11 the last Israelis had left Gaza — the final chapter in Israel’s “unilateral disengagement” from an area which Jewish settlers had turned from a barren wasteland into a blooming oasis. A few hours later (was the date entirely accidental?), Palestinian vandals torched the synagogues which the departing settlers had left there, hoping that the Palestinians would respect the sanctity of the places of worship.
It was not to be: without the Palestinian policemen lifting a finger to stop the arsonists — according to observers, often egging them on — the synagogues had turned into ashes. Neither the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas nor any other Arab leader uttered a word of censure — or even of sympathy.
The above act of barbarism does not bode well for the future of peace between Palestinians and Israelis; Israel, backed by a majority of public opinion, decided to leave Gaza and to remove the almost 9,000 Jews who lived there, for a variety of reasons — not the least of which was Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s determination, much criticized, among other things, because of its unilateral aspect, to re-launch the Palestinian-Israeli peace process which had expired as a result of the ill-conceived “Oslo” agreement and after the Clinton-Barak-Arafat summit at Camp David five years ago.
This may be the only case in history of a country voluntarily giving up part of its land, telling its people to abandon their homes and livelihood, in order to make peace with an enemy. Unfortunately, the response from the Palestinian side has been less than encouraging.
In spite of this, in his recent speech at the United Nations, Mr. Sharon went out of his way to reach out to the Palestinians; he called on them to “end the bloody conflict and embark on the path which leads to peace and understanding,” adding that “the right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel does not mean disregarding the rights of others in the land,” thus specifically endorsing Palestinian statehood — and echoing President Bush’s vision of a future democratic, viable Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel (though some may be reminded of Jonathan Swift’s definition of visions: “the art of seeing things invisible”).
Read it all.