Palestinians never took seriously the verbal Israeli commitments to withdraw from Gaza. This is not only as a result of long, bitter Palestinian experience not to expect anything good especially from such a right-wing Israeli government, but also because Palestinians have learned that there is always a rather large gap between what Israeli leaders say and do.
Indeed, Palestinians always advise journalists and analysts to bear this in mind when reporting on the positions and statements of the Israeli government and to judge Israeli leaders on their practices and deeds rather than on what they say.
For us, the frustrating thing is that all our warnings about the real intentions of this so-called Gaza disengagement plan were consistently dismissed by Americans, Europeans and the international community in general.
And even after Israeli prime ministerial advisor Dov Weissglas confirmed that the plan was mainly intended to freeze the peace process and avoid any talk of a Palestinian state, the international community, especially Washington, was happy to accept Sharon’s "clarification" that he still supports the roadmap.
Just to be clear, this is what Weissglas told Haaretz in an interview published on October 8: "[The disengagement plan] supplies the amount of formaldehyde that’s necessary so that there will not be a political process with the Palestinians."
And just to avoid any confusion about what exactly he meant, he added later, "The political process is the establishment of a Palestinian state with all the security risks that entails. The political process is the evacuation of settlements, it’s the return of refugees, it’s the partition of Jerusalem. And all that has now been frozen."
Indeed, the plan would appear to be successful. Practically speaking, the only tangible outcome of this plan so far is to avoid any real peace efforts and to prevent the international community, as represented by the Quartet countries, from taking the necessary steps to bring the parties, including Israel, into line with the roadmap.
In fact, the logic of the current political reality is leading us in the opposite direction of any withdrawal. It’s neither a coincidence nor a mistake that while Israel is talking about withdrawal, on the ground they have just completed the most brutal incursion into the Gaza Strip in the past four years. And all the time, Israel is consolidating the occupation by expanding settlements, building walls and confiscating land inside the occupied West Bank.
As long as there is no political process that promises the Palestinians a peaceful end to the occupation and the Israelis the prospect of peace, violence will continue, whether it is the violence of the occupation asserting itself or the violence of the occupied people trying to free itself. Such a reality can only lead to re-occupation rather then redeployment or withdrawal. Furthermore, the logic of such continuous violence will also only serve to encourage extremists and fundamentalists in both Israel and Palestine, leading to a further consolidation of the occupation.
For all these reasons and because it’s not part of a political process, the "disengagement plan" will never improve the chances of peace, nor will it reduce the hostility and violence. Only a process that involves the implementation of the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, is compatible with international law and consequently involves a complete end to this illegal and belligerent occupation, the root cause of the conflict and the ongoing violence; only such a process holds any promise of replacing the ongoing violence and hostility with negotiations to reach agreements that can lead to peace and prosperity for both sides.