The world is praising Ariel Sharon and Israel for the bold and difficult step of removing Israeli Jews from their homes in the Gaza Strip [front page, Aug. 16, 18, 19]. Now the ball is in the Palestinians' hands. Can they create a stable Gaza focused on development? Or will Gaza become another launching pad for Islamic terror?
The signs are not promising. The head of Hamas in Gaza, Mahmoud Zahar, published an interview last week saying, "Neither the liberation of the Gaza Strip, nor the liberation of the West Bank or even Jerusalem, will suffice us. Hamas will pursue the armed struggle until the liberation of all our lands. We don't recognize the state of Israel or its right to hold onto one inch of Palestine. . . . "
The same day, other "resistance leaders" stated that they were planning to transfer the technology of rocket manufacturing to the West Bank after the disengagement. Yet rather than confront these leaders, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority consult them.
If the Palestinians resume their violence after the withdrawal, the world will see that it is the Palestinians and the Islamic movement that foment violence and that they should be reprimanded, cut off and destroyed.
By what great virtue has Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon given back stolen property? And what great crime is it to dislocate trespassers and squatters? Justice waited 38 years.
Happily, the Palestinians have received back their property. Israel can be happy also because it gains credibility with most of the world and its own people by giving back Gaza. Citizens want their state to be a protector and provider, not an occupier and an aggressor.
To expect the Palestinians to say thank you to the thief who stole the land in the first place, however, is to misunderstand history.