Various politicians and commentators have been scraping their fingernails down the blackboard in an expression of frustration over the 'Let My Gazans Free' agreement which was conjured up during late-night Condi sessions earlier this week.
From some parts of the security-focused Israeli public and even coming out of Israel's security agencies we have witnessed serious concern and skepticism. Even if Defence Minister Mofaz and PM Sharon have always spoken of strictly maintaining the security of the State in any agreement, there are signs that serious risks (in addition to Disengagement) are being taken now for what is coined 'the hope of holding up Abbas and jumping on the optimism train' which apparently and miraculously appeared after Israel's departure from Gaza.
In fact, the rocket fire from Gaza, terror attacks and sick Palestinian child abuse since Disengagement do little for the confidence of the risk-taker. Many in the Likud, including Yuval Steinitz (who heads the Foreign Relations and Defence Committee) are unhappy with the consequences that are likely to flow from Israel's accession to the latest agreement.
So what's the problem? Well, from an era when Israel rejected any idea of a foreign force providing for Israel's security in place of Israel herself, we arrive at a new day, where the openings of a Gazan seaport, the Rafah (southern Gaza) border crossings and Gazan road access across Israel to the West Bank, all rely heavily on the goodwill of the Palestinians and unarmed European monitors. Sadly, the goodwill of these parties to Israel can be collected in one hand... and it hurts the hand to hold it. Suddenly, Israel will be begging foreigners to stop the passage of suspicious or terror-linked individuals and goods.
Frankly, the nice European chaps will have no motivation, foresight nor courage to stand in the way of a Palestinian madmen or even the poor, weak Palestinian woman on her way to Soroka Hospital for Israeli treatment. As for the Palestinians and the Egyptians, the weeks (now months) of serious Al Qaeda weapon and personnel smuggling into Gaza is the best example yet of how little we have to look forward to.
Now let's assume that Sharon, Mofaz and co are not actually spies and buddies of Osama. Seeing as that is a good assumption, there must therefore be good reasons why these military-come-diplomatic men have let Condi reach the in-goal. (If she can make football analogies, so can I!)
Here's my thinking on it. I might be wrong (and feel free to tell me) but here goes...
When it comes to the crunch, we have begun to set our final borders and when you do that you are forced to face reality. Right now, we are bordering on reality. It might be a reality that many Israelis resent or wish to change but nonetheless it is current reality.
The reality is that Disengagement (agree with or not) has been and gone... and it is done. With that should come the understanding that having given the Palestinians some land for themselves, they must be allowed to use it. Sure, I am not in favor of the ridicuously pessimistic and unhelpful "Gaza is the World's Biggest Prison" slogan sponsored by Btzelem, but at the same time we must accept that when you give a nation autonomy, you must in fact allow that autonomy to prosper.
This means that having made the decision to disengage and in light of the fact that most Israelis (even if hesitantly) agree to a 2-state solution, there is going to come a time when we can no longer fully or even partially control the lives, politics and trade of the other state - the Palestinian state. The dream held by Rabin, by Sharon and by us all that Palestine would be a demilitarized State, is close to finished. That's not necessarily a good thing but represents the reality.
There will not be peace when we control their economy and their borders and therefore in giving them full access to sea, land and air, their society, their military capability and their international trade will develop as they see fit. Anyway, terrorists have always found a way to smuggle weapons and to kill scores of Israelis even without possessing a right to be a militarized state. (The utopian hope is that should poverty decrease, so will terror).
In line with this, we have a geographic nightmare whereby between Gaza and parts of the West Bank (which will probably constitute Palestine) lies an annoying little country called Israel :)
With that comes the reality that peace will never come while Gazans and West Bank Palestinians can not travel freely between the two. Reality bites when you realize that with that right fulfilled comes the transport of Gaza-based terror operations to Palestinian villages overlooking Netanya, Tel Aviv and the like.
Folks, the man who is elected Israeli Prime Minister in February or March will have his chance to finalize the borders of the state - through agreement or unilaterally. The sad tragic truth and reality is that whatever borders are drawn, the Palestinians will neither be satisfied enough nor sensible enough to avoid missing another opportunity to miss an opportunity.
Therefore, we are bordering on an internationally-backed reality that hurts and that encourages further risks for the sake of peace. Peace is the ultimate goal and it is worth taking some risk to improve the lives of both peoples. The only drawback is that we've been saying the same thing for 57 years and reality has kept creeping up on borders and slapping us in the face.
We are indeed brave, courageous and generous peace-loving suckers for punishment.