The ink was barely dry on the Gaza and West Bank evacuation orders Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon signed Sunday when speculation began about difficulties after the withdrawal is completed.
There are serious concerns that the entire process might collapse and Palestinian violence return. Should that happen, Sharon said this week, Israel’s military would respond.
Fuel shipments to the Gaza Strip’s major power plant resumed Wednesday, four days after the plant closed down in response to the European Union’s refusal to continue paying for the fuel without assurances that none of its money was being diverted for other purposes, including terrorism.
The umbrella organization representing American Jewry is planning to issue a statement this week saying a majority of its members support the Gaza disengagement plan. But a draft circulated at midweek falls short of an outright endorsement by the Conference on Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, according to several members who have seen the statement.
As Israel this week waged its bloodiest army operation against Hamas in Gaza and lashed out at the United Nations for alleged complicity with the terrorists, the Sharon administration’s motive for the Gaza disengagement was called into question.
Dov Weissglass, Sharon’s senior adviser, told the Israeli daily Haaretz that “the significance of the disengagement is the freezing of the peace process. And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem.
Fighting between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen in the Gaza Strip intensified this week, claiming the lives of three Israeli soldiers and about 20 Palestinians, while Egyptian troops scoured the Sinai for more terrorists seeking to attack Israelis on Passover vacation.
As Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sought to shore up his coalition government this week by adding right-wing lawmaker Avigdor Lieberman, media reports spoke of an imminent showdown between Fatah and Hamas, military tensions on the Syrian border, and threats of a Palestinian attack.
"This is the calm before the storm," Abu Abir, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, vowed at a press conference after Israeli troops reportedly killed seven Palestinians in clashes in the Gaza Strip Monday.
Israel and Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip are indirectly ironing out details of a cease-fire that may avert, at least temporarily, increased violence.
If there were to be a major Israeli attack, analysts agree, it would come after Israelis celebrate their 60th anniversary this month. But by the end of the month, all bets are off.
The government of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon came under fire at home this week for allegedly disregarding Palestinian civilians in its zeal to combat terrorists, and from the United Nations, which called upon Israel to remove its security barrier that Arabs call a land grab.
The controversy within Israel arose after the Israeli military launched one of the largest series of air strikes against terrorists in the Gaza Strip on Monday. Five air strikes were conducted against suspected Palestinian terrorists and a weapons factory in Gaza City.
While Israeli society is deeply concerned about the prospect of a civil war over the government’s planned pullout from Gaza and part of the West Bank this summer, nearly six in 10 Americans are unaware of the proposed disengagement.And in a sign that efforts to improve Israel’s image need to be stepped up, Americans have no idea the Gaza pullout was initiated by Israel to improve the prospects of peace with the Palestinians.