More Heartache for Our Blessed Israel: Retreat from Gush Katif as of May 1, 2004

Israel Resource News Agency has learned from highly placed sources in the US Defense Department that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has informed the US government that he intends to implement the retreat from Gush Katif as of May 1, 2004. This move is being carefully coordinated with the US, the UN and the EU.

Dr. Uzi Arad, the head of the Herzlia Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, says that ‘it was predictable that Sharon would find that there is no such thing as ‘unilateral’ withdrawal, and that this move will now find Israel with many bedfellows that it would rather not have’.

That means one of two things. Either Sharon will implement a government decision and ignore any constraints, as he ignored the constraints that the government placed on the road map and the prisoner exchange, or he will implement the rules that he can apply under the military law which currently operates in Katif – cutting off electricity, water and protection.

Mubarak was quoted on Monday in the French daily Le Figaro as saying Egypt would not contribute to security arrangements in the Gaza strip after an Israeli withdrawal.

“It is a trap because we would find ourselves in a situation of confrontation with the Palestinians,” Mubarak said. “And if there were a problem, we could even find ourselves in conflict with the Israelis.”

The US is looking for answers to a number of fundamental questions, including:

*How extensive will the evacuation from Gaza be? Will it include the three northern settlements of Elei Sinai, Dugit and Nissanit?

*Will Israel also remove its military presence from Gaza?

*Who will control the strategic Philadelphia Corridor, and what will the Egyptian role be in patrolling that strategic road?

*How will Israel coordinate the disengagement with the Palestinian Authority?

*How will Gaza’s maritime borders be patrolled to prevent penetration from organizations such as Hizbullah?

*Where will the evacuated settlers go to live?

*What will happen to the evacuated homes, will they be transferred to the Palestinians or razed to the ground?

*What will happen to the water and electricity infrastructure left behind?

*How will Israel respond if settlers physically resist evacuation?

*What isolated West Bank settlements will Israel evacuate?

*What plans does Israel have for the West Bank settlement blocks of Ma’ale Adumim, Gush Etzion and Ariel?

*Does Sharon plan on annexing these areas?

*Who will be footing the bill for the disengagement project?

I could just cry.

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