The Sharon Swindle
I also think Sharon is tag-teaming with Netanyahu. Now that Labour are no longer of use to him, they'll be jettisoned and Netanyahu and the hard right will take the helm--as arranged.
Story by Le Monde's Jerusalem correspondent, Gilles Paris.
8,500 Israelis evacuate Gaza, while another 12,000 settle in the West Bank
The day after the evacuation of the last Gaza settlers by the Israeli army, a public opinion poll published by the Israeli daily Yedioth Aharonoth showed that most persons surveyed (54%) say they are favorable to dismantling more settlements on the West Bank while 42% are opposed. But according to the daily, Maariv, colonization is not slacking off. The paper reported the same day that according to figures kept by the Interior Ministry, more than 12,000 Israelis have moved to settlements on the West Bank between September 2004 and July 2005—6,000 in 2005 alone.
Since the announcement of the Gaza evacuation, more than 18,000 new colonists settled on the West Bank in radical colonies such as the ultra-religious settlements close to the Green Line. Because only 8,500 colonists were evacuated from the Gaza Strip, colonization has shown a net gain. The number of settlers on the West Bank now exceeds 250,000, without counting the 200,000 residents living in the colonized quarters of East Jerusalem.
Against this backdrop, the new confiscations of Arab land around Jerusalem announced on Wednesday were criticized not only by the Palestinians but by the Israeli Left and a portion of the national press. Faced with opposition from the US Administration, the Israeli government placed plans for a new colony, which would have completely encircled the Arab quarters where the Palestinians hope to establish their capital, on the back burner. The announcement of the confiscation of 120 hectares of Palestinian lands in this area and the building of a police barracks between Jerusalem and the big Maale Adoumim colony located to the east is certainly perceived as a new attempt to prevent a future partition of the city.
These initiatives could threaten Ariel Sharon’s coalition with Labour formed to carry out the Gaza evacuation. Labour ministers plan on opposing the new police barracks. Eitan Cabel, the Secretary-General the party led by Shimon Peres, believes that Labour will leave the government in November because the last Gaza evacuation operations will have been completed. The move will trigger early elections. Former Finance Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, who resigned from the government just before the start of the evacuation, is soon expected to announce his candidacy to lead Likud—a post now held by Sharon.
If the demolition of settler houses in Gaza by the Israelis pursues its course, negotiations with the Palestinians will remain difficult on the question of border crossings into the Gaza Strip. The Israeli press reported on Friday that the Israeli government hopes to retain control over goods and persons entering Gaza from Egypt for reasons of security. The Palestinians, fearful that border controls will result in the paralysis of trade, as they do today, are pleading for the presence of a third party—hopefully the Europeans.
This quarrel is taking place as the Israelis and the Egyptians are finalizing an agreement under which 750 police would be deployed along the 20 km length of the border to prevent arms smuggling into Gaza.