Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Danny Ayalon, in an interview with a U.S. Jewish magazine, dispelled any notion the current forced removal of Jews from Gaza is part of an agreement with the Palestinian Authority tied to ending terrorism, saying the pullout is solely a U.S.-Israeli policy matter.
Ayalon, speaking to the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, contradicted previous Israeli government positions that demanded the PA end terrorism and incitement against Israel as a pre-condition for withdrawal from Gaza. The ambassador said there is no longer the expectation of dismantling terror networks prior to Israel’s departure and that task would have to wait until all Israeli citizens were expelled.
“After the disengagement, they will have to dismantle the terror infrastructure,” Ayalon said. ‘They will have to arrest the fugitives and the known terrorists, break their cells and do it on a sustainable basis, so they can really come with us and negotiate on the roadmap.”
Israel’s diminished expectations still provide for PA soldiers and police to be moved from other areas into the Gaza region to provide a protective buffer from terrorists for the IDF and uprooted Jewish residents during Israel’s retreat, reports Israel National News.
“Disengagement has to be viewed in the context of Israel-United States relations,” Ayalon said. “This pullout did not follow an agreement with the Palestinians, but it followed something which is much more important, an agreement with the United States. Disengagement is something that creates a common agenda between us and the United States.”
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is currently in the Mideast, meeting with all parties in advance of the pullout. Palestinians are criticizing the U.S. for not exerting further pressure on Israel to keep the new Gaza border open to facilitate access between the seaside territory and the West Bank.
Withholding U.S. aid was suggested by Diana Buttu, a legal adviser and spokeswoman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
“[Rice] has incredible power and the incredible ability to change Israeli policies,” she told Associated Press. “That leverage, that ability to influence, is not being exerted in its full force. We’re hoping to see more.”