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A Field Guide to Israeli Hawks

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's announcement that he plans to dismantle Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip, as well as some settlements in the West Bank, has shocked and caught people off guard both in Israel and around the world. Many denounced Sharon's plan as a trick. But that surprise was wrong-headed from the start.

Despite the way it often looks to outsiders, debates in Israel about the future of the occupied territories have never been confined to hawks and doves. Like everything in Israel, the process is more complicated, especially where the hawks are concerned.

Basically, there are two species of Israeli hawks: call one kind ideological and the other strategic. Ideological hawks view the occupied territories as an integral part of the historical Land of Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people. For them, the territories are part of the Jewish patrimony, which is why they insist on referring to the West Bank by its Hebrew historical appellation - Judea and Samaria.

Not all ideological hawks are religious, although those who are base their claim on divine promises and prophecies. But many ideological hawks are secular nationalists, and their jargon is similar to that of typical Central and Eastern European nationalists. Former Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir belonged to that category.