Thursday, August 18, 2005

Report On The Gaza Pullout
Egypt To Post Troops Along Southern Border
To Stop Flow Of Weapons Into Gaza -
Palestinians Celebrate Jew-Free Territory

From Associated Press:

CAIRO, Egypt - Watching the dramatic footage of Israeli soldiers pulling Jewish settlers from synagogues Thursday, many Arabs cheered what they saw as a victory for the Palestinian cause while wondering how the Gaza withdrawal will reshuffle Mideast politics.

Egypt, meanwhile, was preparing to post hundreds of troops along the Gaza border to heighten security once Israeli troops leave. Around 450 Egyptian soldiers arrived Wednesday in the town of el-Arish, near the border.

The deployment increases Egypt's role in the future of the Gaza Strip and the wider peace process. Israel wants Egypt to ensure that weapons and other materials are not smuggled across the border to militant groups in Gaza.

Israel and the United States have said the degree to which the Palestinian leadership curtails militants and establishes control in Gaza after the Israeli departure will have an effect on future peace moves.

Cairo has given few details on the deployment, including when its troops will move into place. Israel is to complete the removal of its forces from the Mediterranean strip in about three weeks.

"This is an important opportunity to broaden the circle of peace in the area. Let me say that we see this not just as Gaza, but more than Gaza. If confidence can be rebuilt between Israelis and Palestinians, there's an opportunity to do more," said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Welch after talks in Cairo with Egyptian Prime Minster Ahmed Nazief.

I see it that way too. I hope for peace. But, what are they doing on the Palestinian side?:

Arab satellite stations gave extensive coverage to the removal of settlers, particularly the most popular channels Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, which broadcast live footage from the scene. Al-Jazeera interviewed an Arab-speaking Israeli officer on how the evictions were proceeding.

In Lebanon, Al-Manar TV, the station of the Shiite guerrilla group Hezbollah, cheered the settlers' removal with shows featuring Palestinian dances and clips of fighting from the Palestinian intefadeh, or uprising, set to martial music.

Al-Manar's exuberant coverage brought up an implicit — but clear — parallel between the Gaza pullout and the 1990 Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon after years of bloody fighting with Hezbollah forces, giving both events the aura of victory by armed resistance.

Two top officials from the Palestinian militant group Hamas, Khaled Mashaal and Osama Hamdan, met Thursday with Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, the top Shiite Muslim cleric in Lebanon, to "thank him for his support of the Palestinian cause."

The Gaza withdrawal is a "real victory, and achievement, albeit limited in size, but with great consequences. We see in it good tidings ... a beginning of withdrawal, the beginning of retreat and the beginning of an ultimate triumph for the resistance," Meshaal said after the meeting, according to Al-Manar.

Still, many in the Arab world fear that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is withdrawing from Gaza only to strengthen his country's hold on the West Bank and east Jerusalem, which Palestinians seek as part of a future state.

In Jordan, university student Kameel al-Khalidi said the resistance of settlers to leaving Gaza "proves that Israelis nurture biblical dreams in Palestine."

Yes, this is true. There are hardcore Zionist Jews who do operate under the understanding that Israel is theirs because God gave it to them. If one were to poll Israelis and ask them if this is what they believe, one would find that far less then 10%, probably something more like 4% of Israelis believe that.

Meanwhile, Palestinians elected two political parties to lead them, both of whom publicly flaunt political charters which call for the utter destruction of Israel.

There is no moral equivalency here.

Despite concerns over the next steps, however, some said the end of the Gaza occupation marked a decisive change, proving that Israel can be forced to remove its settlements from Arab lands.

Yes, because there must be no Jews living in Arab lands. Question, how are these Arabs different than the Nazis who wanted Europe to be Judenrein?