The evacuation of Israeli settlements from the Gaza Strip is creating unrealistic expectations. Here are three of the more notable expectations, which have no chance of being realized:
1. "The world will embrace us following the pullout." Forget about it!
Neither the Europeans nor the Americans have shed a single tear over the evacuation. The pullout was received in the world as the long overdue rectification of an Israeli faux pas; something Israel should have corrected a long time ago.
According to international cultural and media discourse, the Jewish settlers – with no exception – are colonialists occupying Palestinian land. Not a drop of empathy. Their and their children's' tears are perceived as local Jewish madness, especially when accompanied by "Nazi" insults hurled at Israeli soldiers.
The praise foreign statesmen lavished on Sharon will quickly fade away if no further concessions and withdrawals are made. There are no more political rewards to be gained from the disengagement; from now on disappointments are more likely.
2. "The Palestinians will watch the evacuation of Gaza and learn how to solve their refugee problem." No chance!
The Palestinians do not view the disengagement as a model for dealing with their refugees. In the eyes of 99 percent of the Palestinians and 98 percent of the world, the Israelis evacuated from Gaza are not refugees, but rather, emissaries of the occupation returning home.
A quick reminder; a "refugee" has no citizenship and no permanent residence.
When the Israelites left Egypt, they were refugees, yet not a single settler recently evicted from Gaza belongs in this category. It was not the Israeli presence in Gush Katif that prevented the Palestinians from realistically addressing their refugee problem. It was not even used as an excuse for the PA's inaction.
Had the PA wanted to eliminate the Gaza Strip refugee camps, it could have built suitable permanent housing units for them at a cost of USD 3-4 billiion.
These funds could have been easily raised three, five and eight years ago. The Palestinian establishment avoids dealing with the issue not for lack of resources but because it is unable – and unwilling – to tell the Palestinians the truth: You will never return to Israel.
Uttering such truth, which means the renunciation of the "right of return," could be even more difficult, not easier, after the Jews have been removed from Gaza.
3. "The rift will be healed following the pullout" (a statement made, for example, by the IDF Southern Command Head Dan Harel). The pullout will not be followed by healing: The alienation between the majority and minority in Israeli-Jewish society will only deepen. However, the evacuation will not be followed by a terrible national rift. For a lack of other choice, reconciliation with reality will set in.
The tens of thousands of Jewish settlers to be left outside the security fence, in Palestinian territory, will understand that regardless of this or that prime minister's promises, they better start packing. After all, the complete disregard to election promises has become a norm here.
A radical rightist minority will try to influence, convince, warn, and entrench itself ideologically and politically. Their representation in the Knesset might increase: The Likud will probably split into two parties, the "Likud" lead by Netanyahu and "Likud Ha'Am" (unity of the nation) led by Sharon - or vice versa. They'll bitterly fight for votes .
Following elections, the process will continue. Indeed, the hourglass has already been turned.