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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Monday, September 12, 2005

A good start

"Looking back on the years of the occupation, it is impossible not to come to the conclusion that there had been a march of folly here, which not only did not achieve any national goals, but also inflicted huge damage on the state, society and economy. The occupation regime imprinted a negative seal on society's norms and values; hundreds of dead were sacrificed in order to defend it, and billions were spent in order to build settlements with no expectancy for their continued existence.

"In 1967 and in the first few years of the occupation, only a few public figures predicted the negative results and demanded that the territories be related to as a deposit, which would be returned in the framework of peace negotiations. All Israeli governments and official institutions and a large majority of the public were stricken with blindness, which is difficult to understand in retrospect. The government decisions from yesterday to leave the synagogue buildings in the Gaza Strip standing is nothing but the final death rattle of the march of folly.

"The damage and price caused by the occupation also exist in the rest of the territories Israel occupied in 1967. The tremendous importance of Israel's exit from Gaza is not only leaving a crowded area that is a center for terror, but also because it is a first step toward the country's convergence into reasonable borders. These must be determined according to demographic and security tests, but also must allow the existence of a sovereign Palestinian state and give expression to Palestinian national aspirations. This means that sooner or later, Israel will have to leave the vast majority of the Judea and Samaria territories in the West Bank, and allow the state of Palestine to establish its capital in East Jerusalem.

"Although this was not Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's declared intention when he initiated and carried out the disengagement, the exit from the Gaza Strip is a very significant step on the long road to Israeli-Palestinian peace. Now Israel is entitled to expect that the PA will respond to the Israeli move with steps of its own that will bring peace a step closer. For this, the PA will have to promise, first and foremost, that the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel will be quiet, so that there will no longer be any need for the IDF to cross it, as well as carry out what is required of it according to the road map. If it does so, the chances are good that in the foreseeable future, the exit from Gaza will not be Israel's last exit from occupied territories."

Haaretz editorial, September 12, 2005

The paper's suggestions should be heeded. The Palestinian Authority does have responsibilities, and so does Israel. Haaretz can discuss the "road map" as much as it wants, but it died years ago. Until Israel's occupation ends, chances of true peace are minimal at best.


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