Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Settlers and the Future of Gaza

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Settlers and the Future of Gaza

Article excerpt

IT has been almost one year since Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority (PA) was created. In that short time, many of the assumptions upon which the historic accord between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel is based have been undermined. Mutual confidence between Israelis and Palestinians has not been enhanced, but eroded. Economic relations have not strengthened; they have been strangled by an Israeli decision to deny Palestinians the economic benefits of their dependence upon Israel. The PA has not been able to build upon the limited powers conferred by the Oslo accord.

Many elements of the agreement, including elections and the expansion of formal PA authority beyond Gaza-Jericho, have not been implemented. In many respects, the situation in the occupied territories has never been worse.

These shortcomings, however, have not obscured the fundamental success of the accord in the eyes of the two men who embraced it. For PA chairman Yasser Arafat, Gaza-Jericho has enabled the establishment of a beachhead of Palestinian power in the homeland. For Israel's Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the accord answered a popular Israeli demand to remove their sons from the teeming, hostile refugee camps that consume Gaza.

Or did it? Two recent suicide attacks on Israeli military targets may well represent a turning point in Palestinian, and more important in Israeli, thinking. To the Palestinians, the attacks are another demonstration that Israel -- both its settlers and its Army -- has not left Gaza. For Israelis, these latest assaults are a painful reminder that the Oslo accord has not liberated them from Gaza, and that military duty in Gaza today is more dangerous than at the height of the intifadah.

Mr. Rabin now risks losing the support of the people who, long before Oslo, motivated the search for a solution to Israel's problems in Gaza -- Israelis who were fed up with killing and being killed in the refugee camps of Jabaliya, Nuseirat, and Shaati. …

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