Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Israel's Difficult Overture

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Israel's Difficult Overture

Article excerpt

It has often been said that the most difficult life experience aside from death is moving. In fact, there is psychological trauma associated with vacating the place one has called home, abandoning the familiar, leaving behind old memories, and venturing out into the unknown to build a new life.

When we make the decision to undertake such a trying endeavor, we do so with the hope of a better future and with our eyes fixed on new possibilities. Israel's disengagement plan - its bold move to evacuate over 8,000 people for the sake of peace - is similar in its difficulty and its purpose, but both the scale and implications are far greater.

The decision to dismantle all 21 settlements in Gaza and four in the West Bank is one of the most painful initiatives that Israel has ever had to implement.

By Wednesday, Israeli families must leave the homes and communities they have built and nurtured, some for more than three decades. The numbers speak for themselves: 100 percent of the Gaza Strip and 300 square miles of the West Bank will be evacuated and handed over to the Palestinians; 5,000 Israeli schoolchildren will need to find new schools; 10,000 people employed in agriculture will need new employment; 38 synagogues will be dismantled; and 48 graves will be uprooted.

Why has Israel chosen to take this historic step? Faced with the decision either to lead or to be led, Israel has decided to lead.

Israel's disengagement plan presents the prospect of a better future for Palestinians and Israelis alike. This plan aims to minimize friction between Israelis and Palestinians, bolster Israel's security, and provide the Palestinians with the chance to design their own future.

Perhaps most important, disengagement presents a key opportunity to move beyond the present impasse and start the process of negotiation. Unfortunately, inaction has been the name of the game for the Palestinians ever since Yasser Arafat slammed the door on the historic concessions Israel offered at Camp David in 2000. …

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