Let me take it point by point. (Excerpts from my original statements are bolded.)
It will not advance Israel towards peace. Not even its proponents claim it will.
It will not win Israel any diplomatic concessions from its Arab neighbors, such as recognition or trade.
So far, there has been no sign of such developments.
It will not put an end to Israeli military action in Gaza.
Very true. Sharon himself said last night, "To a hand offered in peace, we will respond with an olive branch. But if they choose fire, we will respond with fire, more severe than ever." It may not be immediate, but there's little doubt what the Palestinians will choose.
In fact, Gaza poses an additional military threat I failed to identify. As Netanyahu has recently noted, it is only a matter of time before Gaza becomes a new outpost for the global Islamic Jihad. Like Afghanistan and Somalia, stateless Gaza will be too attractive a base to pass up. The Palestinian and Lebanese jihadis will arrive first, followed quickly by others.
It will not earn Israel sympathy from overseas. Europe will not start loving us and the UN will not stop condemning us. Their reaction will not be "Well done!" but "What took you so long?"
There has been some recent sympathy from France and Britain, but it will fade as disengagement becomes history. Nothing about disengagement changes the basic parameters of European policy towards Israel.
It will not ease the diplomatic pressure for further Israeli concessions... the expectation that disengagement will bring even temporary respite is an illusion.
Does anyone seriously doubt this?
It will not stop the daily flow of Palestinian laborers from Gaza into Israel.
It will not significantly reduce Israel's exposure to terrorism... the fundamentals of the situation will remain unchanged.
Still true. If anything, acquiescing to the Palestinian demand for safe passage between Gaza and the West Bank will inevitably give rise to what one might call a "technology transfer" between them. We can't keep mortar shells and Qassam rockets out of the West Bank cities - and, therefore, the Israeli heartland - forever.
It will not make Israel "more democratic".
It will not solve the demographic problem.
By taking Gaza off the table for good, pressure for Israeli concessions will shift to the remaining outstanding disputes. The intensity of the pressure will not lessen, but it will be focused solely on issues where Israel can less afford to compromise.
Israel's bargaining position in any conceivable future negotiations will be compromised, having already forfeited some of our assets unilaterally.
The Palestinian terror groups - indeed, Muslim terrorists the world over - will be encouraged by what they will perceive as the success of their war against Israel. We will have demonstrated to them that if they remain stubbornly intransigent and continue to attack us, we will eventually give them what they demand, without even requiring them to sit down and negotiate...
Our claim to any of the remaining disputed territory will be undermined.
Still true. On this point, the situation has actually worsened since October. Israel now plans to withdraw from every last bit of Gaza, including the border corridor with Egypt. This reinforces the unfortunate Sinai precedent that the 1949 armistice lines should become Israel's eventual borders. Israel will never be able to offer less on any other front - whatever the Americans may have promised.
Another point of deterioration since October is the agreement for the stationing of Egyptian forces on the Gaza/Egypt border, not only forfeiting an Israeli role in patrolling that border but also undermining the force restriction provisions of the Israel-Egypt peace treaties. Israel has apparently given up the possibility of controlling all of Gaza's external ports and crossings, with all the ensuing security risks.
Pointing to the "demographic threat" as a motive for disengagement will further entrench Palestinian intransigence.
The expense to Israel, both financially and emotionally, will be colossal.
Can anything be said in Sharon's defense? If so, he should have said it himself last night, in his address to the nation. I'll look at that in my next post.