by David Singer
Amidst the turmoil enveloping Israel as the proposed
disengagement date approaches, one question remains unanswered
are the Jewish communities living in Gaza and Northern Samaria
being expelled or evacuated?
This is not a semantic question only, but has a vital bearing on
the future of the sovereignty of those areas from which Israel
proposes to disengage.
"Evacuation" indicates a temporary uprooting with the intention
of returning when the emergency giving rise to the evacuation
Thus large population centres were evacuated during the terrible
tsunami earlier this year or Londoners were evacuated during the
wartime blitz by the Germans in World War 2.
No one ever suggested they would not be allowed to return to
their homes after the crisis had ended.
"Expulsion" on the other hand indicates something far more
permanent. A child expelled from a school has no chance of
returning to that school. A diplomat expelled from a country
will never be accepted back in that country.
Strangely, the language used by Israel's Government speaks of
"evacuation", whilst the language used by the Opposition to
disengagement speaks of "expulsion".
Ariel Sharon needs to urgently explain whether Israel still
maintains its claim to sovereignty in those areas from which it
is currently removing Jewish communities or whether its
disengagement amounts to a ceding of all claims of sovereignty
to those areas which it is leaving.
Based on the use of the word "evacuation", it would appear that
Israel is not ceding its claims, which are well grounded in
international law arising from the Mandate for Palestine and
article 80 of the United Nations Charter.
Israel can certainly cede those claims, but Ariel Sharon has not
mentioned this "c" word to my knowledge.
One can envisage an Israeli return to Gaza and Northern Samaria,
should the Palestinians carry out their threats to continue the
armed struggle all the way to Jerusalem. Israel's response could
be disastrous for the Palestinians and wipe out whatever
political or territorial gains they may make as a result of
Israel's initial withdrawal.
If these circumstances arose would Sharon then be able to claim
sovereignty or was the initial disengagement a ceding of all
claims to any parts of the areas from which withdrawal took place?
Sharon would do well to clarify what this forthcoming
disengagement means, because it could have an important bearing
on the Road Map so earnestly espoused by the USA, Russia, the
European Union and the United Nations.
By continuing to use the word "evacuation" to describe its
actions, Israel seems to be making it very clear that if the
Palestinians don't embark on the Road Map and instead continue
to use violence and incitement to achieve their goal of an
independent State, the removal of the Jewish communities will be
only temporary, Israel will return in force and claim
sovereignty of such parts of the areas vacated as it deems in
its national interest.
Sharon continues to play his cards close to the chest.
Israelis, and indeed the whole world, should be taken into
Sharon's confidence on this very vital issue.
David Singer is an Australian Lawyer and Convenor of: Jordan is
Palestine International an organisation calling for sovereignty
of the West Bank and Gaza to be allocated between Israel and
Jordan as the two successor States to the Mandate for Palestine.
Our special thanks to the author for submitting this article. A. G. S.