Has Israel really left Gaza? The answer could well be 'no'. After all, the new Israeli government still has no clear policy vis-à-vis Gaza, or the Palestinians in general.
On one hand, Israel continues to support Gaza economically, as if it weren't foreign territory: Israel supplies water and electricity, the shekel is legal currency there, and Israel's defense minister is trying to bring Palestinian workers back to Israel. Peretz even sends condolences over the deaths of Palestinian civilians, in the hope they will increase Palestinian love for Israel.
On the other hand, Israel is in the midst of a war with the Gaza Strip, and is getting more and more sucked in by the day. The day is not far off when the IDF returns to Gaza, in the latest replay of the Lebanon Syndrome: Commando raids at first to achieve immediate goals, followed by a full invasion, including tank divisions and re-occupation of territory. This would be a tremendous victory for Hamas and Palestinian terror, who want to see the IDF mired deep in Palestinian refugee camps.
Monroe in Israel
But there is a third way – a middle policy, a policy of separatism.
IN 1823, US President James Monroe set a policy that came to be known as the Monroe Doctrine, according to which his country would not participate in European wars, unless American interests had been violated or were under immediate threat.
It wasn't by chance that former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon labeled the Gaza pullout "disengagement." The word suggests a irreversible line separating us from the Palestinians. Disengagement means divorce.
Disengaging from Gaza
On the basis of this policy Israel must bring all hints of aid to the Gaza Strip to a halt over the coming months. Not in revenge, but rather as a more that would indicate the end of the road, the end of occupation. From Israel's perspective, there need not be any difference between Gaza cities in Syria or Jordan. These places are outside our jurisdiction, and they have nothing to do with us.
Because Gaza has an open, dry land border with Egypt, the Egyptians will help any international body wanting to help, if they want. It is their issue.
Israel must also announce a cut-off date, after which it will no longer honor the shekels currently in circulation in Gaza, and will no longer accept Palestinian workers. As long as Palestinians have hope of finding work in Israel, they will have no inspiration to look for work in other places such as the Persian Gulf states or Europe.
Don't get drawn in
On the other hand, Israel must be very careful not to get mired in the trap being set by its enemies. Israel must not be drawn into sacrificing soldiers in a ground-based attack, or drawn into internal Hamas-Fatah battles. Sderot can be defended from the air (this is the preferable option) with a clear policy of deterrence.
The goal should be not to create any feelings of closeness, and to always aim for a minimum of damage. Terrorism won't disappear, but its daily affects will diminish. Once upon a time this also looked impossible with regard to Hizbullah, but voila! –isolationism worked.
We have tried everything with the Palestinians. We've been from war to peace and back to war again. We've entertained sweet fantasies and had them cruelly dashed. We've sacrificed our loved ones and fought determinedly. The time has come to understand that emotional distance is the other side of the disengagement coin.
The time has come for a divorce.