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Disturbing images emerged from Israel, as Israeli soldiers enforced their government’s orders to withdraw from the Gaza Strip.
As the last settlements were being cleared out, Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas referred to “great joy” and the “fruit of Palestinian sacrifice,” but most importantly that Gaza is only the beginning: “This step is only the first step that will be completed in Jenin and in the West Bank and in Jerusalem, God willing.”
To date, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has remained defiant regarding those areas, even stating that settlements would be expanded.
More troubling is the statement made by Hamas’ leader in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan, at a rally attended by local members of parliament, representatives of Hezbullah and various Palestinian factions. He stated that the resistance would continue until all of Palestine—including Jerusalem—is “liberated,” and that this was the only way (as opposed to negotiating) to succeed.
Will the pullout expand to the West Bank and Jerusalem, or will Israel draw a firm line in the sand? Will Mr. Sharon remain as Prime Minister? If not, what position will his successor take (e.g., former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who recently resigned from the government in protest of the Gaza pullout)?
More than likely, the issue will eventually come to Jerusalem, and then, in the desperation of a crisis, who will broker a deal between the Jews and the Muslims? Europe? The pope?
Source: The Daily Star (Lebanon); AFP