Jaffee Center: Terrorism will shift to West Bank

The Palestinian Authoritys inability to control events will enable Hamas to emerge as the main beneficiary of disengagement.

After the disengagement, terrorism's center of gravity will shift to the West Bank and target the settlements, while Gaza will serve as a rear echelon and support base for this activity, researchers from the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies write in an issue of the Strategic Assessment, quarterly devoted to analysis and assessment of potential political developments immediately following disengagement. The researchers state that the Palestinian Authoritys inability to exercise effective control of events on the ground or produce any tangible benefits for Palestinians will have a negative impact on its political status and strength, and enable Hamas to emerge as the main beneficiary of disengagement.

The researchers, Shalom Harari and Dr. Mark Heller, claims that from the Palestinians point of view, The risks of the disengagement generally appear to outweigh the opportunities, since the disengagement will contribute little to ending the anarchy, the social fragmentation, and the economic decline of Palestinian society.

Jaffee Center head Zvi Shtauber says that even if disengagement sets a precedent with great international and diplomatic significance, Prime Minister nevertheless regards it as an isolated action, which will yield only temporary gains. Shtauber adds that if Sharon has nothing to offer the Palestinians afterwards, a crisis will ensue that internal Palestinian strife is liable to exacerbate into a cycle of terrorism. Shtauber contends that in order to prevent this, Israel must reinforce the benefits of disengagement, since it will be impossible to launch a diplomatic initiative in an election year.

Shlomo Gazit asserts that disengagement from the Gaza Strip will be completed and generate benefits, provided that Israel withdraws completely to the June 4, 1967 borders, which are not contested, including an Israeli declaration of the complete end of its control there.

According to Gazit, Israel can then ask the UN Security Council to recognize withdrawal as Israel's partial fulfillment of Resolution 242. Gazit nevertheless stresses that if the government adopts a policy of expanding Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, the Bush administration is liable to regard this as misuse of President Bushs statement that the facts created on the ground since 1967 will have to be taken into account.

Meir Elran believes that the Israeli consensus that the IDF stands apart from political and ideological disputes may break up, creating a negative impact on the IDF's image among the Israeli public. He argues that implementing the disengagement in the absence of public consensus enhances the negative consequences of the tolerance by some Israelis toward refusal of military orders.

In his examination of US policy on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, Dr. Eran Lerman warns that even if US demands that the Palestinians dismantle their terrorist infrastructures are not fully met, Israel will still be required to keep the prime ministers promise to dismantle illegal outposts in order to preserve his credibility with the US administration.

Prof. Yair Evron takes issue with claims by right-wing figures that disengagement will harm Israels power of deterrence. In his opinion, successful Israeli deterrence depends on recognition by the Palestinians that Israel will use its military force whenever its political considerations and essential interests require this.

Published by Globes [online] - www.globes.co.il - on August 11, 2005

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