AlterNet: A Different Take on Disengagement: "If Ariel Sharon had been willing to negotiate a genuine peace agreement with the Palestinians in which Israel withdrew to the 1967 border (with slight border modifications along the lines suggested by Yossi Beilin in the Geneva Accord of 2003), one part of that agreement could have allowed all settlers to stay in their homes in Gaza and the West Bank as long as they agreed to be law-abiding citizens of the Palestinian state that would be governing that area. If they were not willing to give up their Israeli citizenship and live in peace with their neighbors, they could voluntarily leave their homes and return to Israel. That is the same choice that Arabs faced once Israel was established in a land that they once governed. It should have been the choice offered to Israeli settlers as well.
There never had to be the horrible scene of people being dragged from their homes.
So why did it happen? Because Ariel Sharon's entire plan -- as explained to the Israeli public by his assistant, Dov Weisglass -- was to sacrifice the settlers of Gaza precisely in order to have the painful images that dominated the media, so that Sharon could argue 'Of course no one can ask us to do this kind of thing to the 300,000 settlers in the West Bank, given the pain everyone has seen us go through in Gaza.'
As Sharon's aides tried to tell the settlers, the Disengagement was intended to preserve the Occupation, not undermine it. And so, Sharon is moving ahead to finish construction of the Separation Wall and cut off from the West Bank the 150,000 Palestinians living in East Jerusalem (not to mention many other Palestinians living in proximity to the Wall), expropriate more and more Palestinian land, and 'create facts' on the ground that will be hard to change.
There are some who celebrate this Gaza withdrawal as the first step in the process of dismantling settlements. Rabbi Lerner asks them the following: 'At what point, how many years from now, while the Occupation continues of much of the West Bank, will you acknowledge that this was simply another part of the scheme that Sharon has--to hold on to close to 50 percent of the West Bank while offering Palestinians a state that will be neither economically nor politically viable, a state that, when they refuse it, or when they accept it and then ask for more, will be used as 'proof' that nothing will ever satisfy them?' So, Rabbi Lerner argues, we should understand that all the pain was part of an elaborate ruse--and though the immediate victims are the Gaza settlers, the real victims are all the peoples of Israel and Palestine who will have to endure the ongoing suffering that the continuation of the Occupation guarantees."
The only problem for Sharon is that it isn't working. Most of the Israeli public supports more disengagement from the West Bank settlements. They were also offended by the behavior of the settlers, because of the way they exploited their kids and because of their harassment of the soldiers.