Palestinian Foreign Minister Nasser al-Kidwa yesterday became the latest Palestinian official to claim that Gaza will still be "occupied" even after every last Israeli departs. The Palestinians want to have full control of their borders. (The border between Gaza and Sinai, the Philadelphi Road, will be turned over to Egypt under an agreement made between Israel and Egypt.) The want full control of the sea lanes off the Gaza coast and the airspace. In other words, they want free and unfettered access to arms to use against Israel. The Palestinian demands are reasonable under a peace agreement, not when the two sides are still effectively at war.
Claiming Gaza is still "occupied" even without an Israeli presence is also a way for the Palestinians of attempting to escape any responsibility for what follows after the pullout, at least in the eyes of a largely sympathetic world community. If Gaza descends into chaos Israel will be at fault. If Hamas takes over it will be because Israel failed to cooperate sufficiently with the P.A. and failed to "end occupation". If al-Quaeda sets up shop in a major way that, too, will be blamed on Israel. Never mind that there have been reports of links between Palestinian terrorist groups an al-Qaeda for years. The Bush administrations bizarre turn in taking the Palestinian's side in these issues, led by Secretary of State Condoleeze Rice's recent calls for Israel to make the concessions the Palestinians demand doesn't help matters any.
Not taking any responsibility is nothing new for the Palestinians who seem completely unready and perhaps incapable of running a country. The Palestinian Authority demanded that settlements be destroyed rather than using the housing for their own impoverished people. Hothouses and other agricultural development in Gush Katif is being removed rather than being used to feed Palestinians now dependent on international food aid, again as demanded by the Palestinians. The Palestinians have turned down every opportunity to truly end occupation and to have an independent country, preferring war to the incredibly generous offers made by Prime Minister Barak at Camp David and later at Taba in 2000. 97% of the West Bank, all of Gaza, redividing Jerusalem, desalination plants to insure adequate water, and compensation for refugees was simply "insufficient" according to Yasser Arafat and no counteroffer was ever made. The Palestinians preferred to go to war. For what?
The Palestinian media often refer to Netanya or Haifa or Ashdod or even Tel Aviv as the "occupied Palestinian coast". Once again the Palestinians offer Israel only one kind of peace: the peace of the grave.
Now, like it or not, through unilateral Israeli action the Palestinians find themselves forced to govern themselves, at least in Gaza and northern Samaria. They want "occupation" to end? OK, let's give them what they say they want. Israel should stop supplying water, electricity, and health care at a set date. Give the Palestinians enough time to build their own hospitals, power stations, and desalination plants. After all, they receive billions in foreign aid that, up until now, have gone to line the pockets of corrupt officials and to fund their war. If Israel is going to take blame for Palestinian suffering anyway then let Israel stop supporting the Palestinians in any way.
The Palestinians want occupation to end. Fine. Let them start taking responsibility for themselves for once.