The War in Gaza is Over – Ceasefire Now

A Call from Gershon Baskin to Israel and to the PA

 

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

 

The Israeli Parliament will vote today to back the disengagement plan of the Prime Minister Sharon.  It is well known that this plan is not what we were praying for. We also know that this plan will not bring the peace that we have been working for. Nevertheless, at last night’s demonstration of the “Coalition of the Majority” I had a strong sense of victory.

 

Arik Sharon, the man who has been telling us for 30 years that in order to have security we must build settlements in the West Bank and Gaza and we must hold on to territory. Now, that very same person is telling us that in order to have security we must evacuate settlements and withdraw from territory.  “I have repeatedly and publicly said that I support the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel.  I have repeatedly and openly said that I am willing to make painful compromises in order to put an end to this ongoing and malignant conflict between those who struggle over this land, and that I would do my utmost in order to bring peace.  Sharon further said: “The Disengagement Plan does not replace negotiations and is not meant to permanently freeze the situation which will be created.  It is an essential and necessary step in a situation which currently does not enable genuine negotiations for peace… We have no desire to permanently rule over millions of Palestinians, who double their numbers every generation.  Israel, which wishes to be an exemplary democracy, will not be able to bear such a reality over time.  The Disengagement Plan presents the possibility of opening a gate to a different reality.

 

The disengagement plan lacks the crucial elements to arrive at a real peace with the Palestinians.  It lacks negotiations and agreements; it is missing a political and economic element.  Relations between the sides must be rebuilt.  Coordination and cooperation must be relearned and nurtured.  We need international assistance in the form of 3rd parties playing a multiplicity of roles. All of this will come. The disengagement is a beginning, a new opportunity.  We cannot predict its final outcome, but a new process has begun and political positions held by Sharon for his whole lifetime have now been shifted 180 degrees.

 

Now that it clear that Israel will be leaving Gaza, it is now also urgent and necessary that Israelis and Palestinians should now realize that every single Palestinian and every single Israeli who loses their life from this date on is now (more than ever) losing that life in vain. The fight in Gaza is over. Let the war end. It is now time for both sides to declare formally a ceasefire, at least in Gaza. Let those who have fought and died until now be remembered by their families as the last victims of a war that is now over.

 

Israel, as the stronger party should declare that it is launching a ceasefire. Israel should have the patience to allow some time for the Palestinians to declare the same. The firing of some Qassam missiles during the waiting period should not be used as an excuse to break the ceasefire.  It will take a little time for the chaotic unruly situation in Gaza to settle down – especially after 17 Palestinians were killed yesterday in Khan Yunis and more than 100 in the last 2 weeks in other parts of Gaza.  Let them be the last to lose their lives over Gaza.