- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 13, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In their Friday Op-Ed column, “Israel’s determined enemies leave it no option,” Republican Whip Eric Cantor and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer claim that Ariel Sharon’s goal with the Gaza disengagement “was an international show of good faith to kick-start a moribund peace process by giving the Palestinians what they asked for: full control of Gaza.”

This claim is notoriously false. Dov Weisglass, architect of the Gaza disengagement plan and former Sharon chief of staff, indicated as much in an interview with Haaretz:

“The significance of what we did is the freezing of the political process,” Mr. Weisglass said. “The disengagement is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that’s necessary so that there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.”

Nor did the eventual Israeli withdrawal leave the Palestinian Authority in “full control of Gaza.” The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem writes: “Israel continued to control the air and sea space, movement between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank (also via neighboring countries), the population registry, family unification, and the crossing of goods to and from Gaza. Also, residents of the Gaza Strip rely solely on Israel for its supply of fuel, electricity and gas.”

Israeli closures prevented the movement of food, fuel and medicine into Gaza beyond subsistence level. Many have likened the post-disengagement arrangement to an “open-air prison.” The siege tightened after Hamas took control of the security forces in June 2007, bringing Gazans to the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.

Mr. Cantor and Mr. Hoyer conveniently leave these well-documented facts out of their rosy narrative. Unfortunately, the world, and especially the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is a great deal more complicated than our elected representatives seem to believe. The scope and intensity of the current military operation - whether “justified” or not - is counterproductive to the goal of long-term peace and security. If Mr. Hoyer and Mr. Cantor truly cared about Israelis, they would call for an immediate cease-fire.

MATTHEW BERKMAN

Brooklyn, N.Y.

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