will occur only if Gaza is handed over to a responsible Palestinian government, through close coordination with Israel, and with active and generous support from the international community and the wealthy Arab states. A Gaza that is not a source of terrorism or a place where terrorism reigns, which is rehabilitated economically, and which is run by a Palestinian government, is likely to be a positive model for the future.
I am not certain that this is the model Sharon has in mind. An opposite, negative development seems more likely at the moment: Gaza in chaos, supported by international welfare organizations, and controlled by armed gangs - that is the model that will prevent any Israeli from even considering a continuation of the process in the West Bank. Continuation of the war after the Israeli exit from Gaza will cause the Israeli public to lose any desire to reach an agreement. In such a public atmosphere, our death grip on 2.5 million Palestinians in seven enclaves in the West Bank will turn into a perpetual one. (article link)
That is the significance of what we did [i.e. the disengagement]. The significance is the freezing of the political process. And when you freeze that process you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and you prevent a discussion about the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package that is called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed from our agenda indefinitely. (interview link)
Meanwhile, two years after the 'disengagement', Gaza is "under the effective control of Israel" as a "sealed-off, imprisoned, and occupied territory", in the words of the UN's Special Rapporteur on human rights in Palestine.
Human Rights Watch writes that, in 2006, "The closure of Gaza was more complete than at any time since the outbreak of the intifada in 2000, with the Rafah international border, Erez crossing, and other crossings into Israel designed for the transport of goods closed entirely or opened only irregularly, with disastrous effects on Gazan exports and imports."
The UN refugee agency working in Occupied Palestine, UNRWA, describes Gaza as "locked down and imprisoned", as "closure of the crossing points for commercial and construction goods…has reached unprecedented levels." The "conditions of siege imposed on Gaza and the ongoing fragmentation of the West Bank are destroying the fabric of Palestinian society". As a result, "Living conditions in Palestinian areas are now deplorable, slumping to levels unseen since 1967. Every aspect of life has been affected; the entire Palestinian population is suffering. The majority are now dependent on food and cash handouts."
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