Monday, February 23, 2004
So as I expected, the withdrawal from Gaza is going to look more like the withdrawal from Lebanon in the 1980s than like the withdrawal from Lebanon under Ehud Barak. In other words: the IDF is not leaving Gaza entirely, they're just going to move the settlements out and redeploy to locations that do more for Israel's security. Yosef Goell makes a pitch for a widened Philadelphia corridor - the equivalent, in Gaza, of the Security Zone in South Lebanon, where the IDF sat for two decades.
By the way, does anyone else think it's bizarre that Israel's job (according to Goell) is to protect Egypt from the Palestinians, when the reason Egypt has to fear them is that they do nothing to stop the weapons traffic from Egypt to Gaza which arms the terrorist intifadeh against Israel? I've blogged many, many times about Egypt in the past; to reiterate briefly, Egypt's foreign policy goals are: (1) avoid war with Israel; (2) weaken Israel in any way possible short of triggering war (hence Egypt's role in urging Arafat to remain rejectionist at Taba); (3) keep the aid money from America flowing; (4) assert its leadership within the Arab world. That's roughly in order of priority, though these things are never absolutely fixed. In any event, actually turning to Israel for protection is a pretty big comedown for the country. It's one thing for Jordan and its plucky little king (or his son) to rely on understandings with stronger powers - Israel, Iraq - for its survival. It's another thing for once-mighty Egypt. Israel should respond favorably, of course. But it's not a good sign that it's come to this. Frankly, Israel - and America - needs Egypt to rest on a bit of a firmer foundation than Jordan does. Losing Jordan would be bad. Losing Egypt would be a disaster.
Another point: does anyone think it's weird that this stuff gets leaked? Whose interests are served by revealing that Egypt privately and secretly asked for Israel's assistance in this manner? Egypt will, of course, have to deny everything. But the reason Egypt won't admit this sort of thing publicly is that Egypt can't risk riling their own radicals, and these are precisely the people who won't believe their denials. Meanwhile, Israel supposedly looks favorably on the Egyptian request. So why would they undermine them by leaking the request? I'm mystified by this sort of thing, and too frequently it turns out that the reason stuff got leaked is that someone wanted to brag (anyone remember Fuad "running to tell the guys" about his conversations with Cheney?), or someone with a radical policy agenda wants to disrupt the government, or some other reason that is really kind of embarrassing for Israel, supposedly a mature democracy and a serious country.