Well wily old Ariel has made his next move. The paper today carried the announcement of his plan to seize the land surrounding Male Adumim, and to extend the separation barrier. Though I'm made very uneasy by the idea of seizing land, I must support the old general's strategy, and I hope his thinking has at last been laid clear to those of you who so viscously oppose him.
Gaza was evacuated to make safe the larger, more prosperous, and more theologically significant towns of the West Bank. The international good-will acquired by the evacuation is now being spent - perhaps, too quickly, but not frivolously.
I've long thought of the large settlement blocs in the West Bank as Israel's New Mexico, Israel's Arizona. Lke the American South West, the land on which these settlements are built was taken in a just war but unjustly occupied; and they have since become too large, too important, and too populous, to be dismantled.
The shrewdness of Sharon's strategy is that he's carved out borders for Israel that encompass land that his people want, places where they are willing to live, and areas his troops can capably defend. When the barrier is built, and separation is complete, Israeli troops will no longer patrol among hostile Arab majorities. No longer will intrepid Jews be permitted to invite and provoke conflict by settling hilltops that overlook swarming Arab villages. Only the well-established and contiguous places will be kept; the rest abandoned or evacuated in a time and a manner of Israel's choosing. No longer will the Palestinian people have soldiers nearby upon which to vent their anger; and, with the barrier in place, no longer will they be able to travel easily into the Israel heartland with explosives; instead their righteous anger will be directed toward the cause of building a viable state for themselves, or at the corrupt leaders who obstruct them.
In every sense, the 20-odd towns in Gaza, and the 4 towns in Samaria, were sacrificed for the sake of this vision, a vision endorsed by the overwhelming majority of Israelis, a vision that offers security for Israelis, and self-determination for Palestenians.