One Step Closer

Aug 212005
Authors: Ben Bleckley

This weekend we saw images of families being torn from their homes by soldiers of their own nation. Yesterday, thousands more entered the Gaza Strip to evict the last Israeli settlers.

The Gaza pullout is a critical step for peace in the Middle East. Although the forced eviction of settlers from their homes is a sad sight, the Palestinians have had it pretty hard:

1917 – British issue the Balfour Declaration, stating the intent to form a Jewish state in the Holy Land.

1936 – British kill 5,000 Arabs in response to a revolt led by Haj Amin Al-Husseini. Several hundred Jews are also killed.

1948 – Israel declared a Jewish state. British leave Palestine. Egypt, Syria, and Jordan invade Israel.

1949 – Armistice signed between Israel and Middle Eastern nations. Israel receives 50 percent more land than originally planned by the United Nations.

1964 – Palestinian Liberation Organization formed.

1967 – Six Day War: Israel conquers Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula and the West Bank.

2002 – Israel begins construction of a defensive wall around the West Bank. International Courts later rule that the barrier violates international law.

Granted, some Palestinian groups resorted to terrorism to fight Israel, but how else were they supposed to fight an occupying force without an established army or state? It is disappointing that the leading hegemon of the free world failed to support an oppressed people for such a long period of time, even to the point of supporting the oppressor.

While the Gaza pullout is indeed a great gesture to the Palestinians, it may never become a reality.

"The security situation is extremely volatile," said Doug Knight, a political science graduate of CSU pursuing a degree in international studies at the University of Denver. "I think Sharon made the right decision to pullout when he did, but at the moment Abbas doesn't have control of the Palestinians."

This lack of control will leave a power vacuum in Gaza.

"Hopefully the Palestinian Authority steps in and takes over, but frankly, it doesn't look like that's going to happen," Knight said. "Hamas is going to take over the Gaza Strip."

If that happens, Knight says Israel will have to go in and reestablish order, a move that would require security similar to Israeli settled Gaza.

"Abbas needs to step up," Knight said. "If Abbas would step up and take some power and take authority and say 'I was elected and I'm going to go ahead and manage this and we're going to work with these people pulling out,' the Palestinians would be a lot better off."

If Hamas takes over the Gaza Strip, the international community needs to help Israel step in and establish a more ideal handover of power.

Members of Hillel and the Palestinian Student Association were contacted in relation to this column but did not return calls in time.

Ben Bleckley is a senior English major. His column will run on Mondays.

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