Concern Over the Gaza Pullout
Geostrategy-Direct.com | Monday, August 01, 2005
Nobody in the Republican-controlled Congress wants to be seen as opposing the wishes of both Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the Bush administration. But quietly, the unilateral Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip is making some prominent House and Senate members nervous.
Over the past few weeks, these legislators have been briefed by leading Israeli and U.S. strategists over the impact of the Israeli pullout.
The briefers have not been unanimous in their assessment. But virtually all raised the prospect of the Gaza Strip turning into another Somalia, or a terrorist haven hosted by a dysfunctional Palestinian Authority. The terrorists would certainly include members of the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah as well as Al Qaida.
One scenario envisioned that Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi would use the Gaza Strip to recruit Palestinians for the Sunni insurgency in Iraq as well as for operations in neighboring Jordan. Another scenario was that Gaza would be used as a launching pad for attacks on U.S. and NATO shipping in the eastern Mediterranean.
Rep. Dan Burton, an Indiana Republican and regarded as one of the most security-minded members of the House, expressed his concern over the Gaza pullout on U.S. interests in the Middle East and the war on terrorism. In a June 20 House speech, Burton, a senior member of the House International Relations Committee, viewed the Israeli withdrawal as a victory for terrorism both over the Jewish state and the United States.
"Personally, I will not second guess the prime minister's wisdom," Burton said. "I very much hope that he is right. But again, my experience tells me that if you take steps to appease an enemy you only give him a green light to put more pressure on you. In my opinion, it is imperative and critical to U.S. national security that we as policymakers understand the consequences should the Israeli disengagement plan fail to live up to expectations."
Burton then introduced into the record an assessment by a former Israeli diplomat, Yoram Ettinger, who served in Washington and as consulate-general in Houston during the 1990s. The assessment warned that the Israeli pullout could create a terrorist regime that could turn the Palestinians into an international threat against the United States as well as against such allies as Jordan, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.
"Disengagement is perceived, by the Mideast, as cut and run, appeasement and cave-in, in sharp contrast to U.S. war on terrorism," the assessment said. "No negotiation with - and no concession to - terrorists; no ceasefire with, but destruction, of terrorist regimes; no political, but military solution, to terrorism."
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