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October 17, 2005
Gaza Pullout Gets More Diplomatic Interest

Ariel Sharon's surprise initiative to unilaterally withdraw from the Gaza Strip continues to pay dividends in Muslim political circles. The latest nation to indicate its eventual full diplomatic recognition of Israel is Afghanistan, where Hamid Karzai speaks openly about eventual recognition for the Jewish state:

IN A further sign of Israel's peace dividend following the withdrawal from settlements in the Gaza Strip, the Afghan president, Hamed Karzai, said yesterday that his country would follow Pakistan's example of establishing formal contacts with the Jewish state. ...

He added he would like to meet with Mr Sharon, saying there was no reason why he should not. In another sign of the withdrawal's positive effect on Arab-Israeli relations, Israel's foreign minister, Silvan Shalom, will travel to Tunisia next month, becoming the highest-ranking official from his country to visit the North African nation.

The Scotsman thinks that the red-carpet welcome given Israeli ambassadors from Muslim nations these days may have less to do with Gaza and more to do with Washington DC in Muslim nations. There may well be some truth to that. Just as Sharon built credibility for his efforts to seek an end to the Palestinian conflict with his strategic withdrawal from an otherwise untenable military and political position in Gaza, the United States has built its own credibility in the region by finally taking action after numerous provocations by terrorists and dictators like Saddam Hussein alike. For the first time in decades, we have refused to flinch or retreat after taking casualties. Both of these developments now lead Muslim nations to rethink their approaches to regional politics and to avoid further provocations of American might, and to recognize Israeli overtures instead of opting for unrealistic all-or-nothing approaches.

The Palestinians have gotten the message as well. Fatah shot and killed three Israelis in a West Bank settlement last night, hoping for an Israeli retaliation which could stall diplomatic progress in the region. It has been several months now since the last official al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade terrorist attack, and Mahmoud Abbas must believe that Israel threatens the PA's political standing in the region for its victimhood status. It also helps to make Fatah "relevant' to the Palestinian electorate, which maintained its preference for bloody wars of annihilation rather than a constructive government engaged in cleaning up corruption and disarming terrorists, such as Hamas.

Sharon's gamble has paid off. We now see the pretenders in stark relief to those serious about ending violence.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 17, 2005 6:14 AM

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