Schueftan's study on unilateral Israeli disengagement (or, as it is better known, separation) is a rare example of a book becoming a blueprint for policy; what seemed remote in 1999 has been endorsed by both the Israeli Left and Right. And while the idea of unilateral, physical Israeli separation from the Palestinians has existed for some time in the Israeli marketplace of ideas, its rationale, costs, and necessity were never fully spelled out until Schueftan's work. He offers a well-argued, thought-provoking strategic vision for the country.
The author assumes that such issues as the "return" of Palestinians, the disposition of Jerusalem, and the future of Israelis who reside beyond the Green Line make the Palestinian-Israel conflict insoluble. Faced with Palestinian violence, Israel must devise a strategy to enable Israeli society to defend itself against the free access Palestinians enjoy to the centers of Israeli society.
The author argues for separation as an electoral winner. He sees the largest segment of the Israeli electorate—the floating votes—as not ideologically motivated but inclined to whatever policy best guarantees their safety—and this is separation. Prime ministers Barak and Netanyahu both understood this, and took steps leading toward unilateral separation.
The Palestinian leadership will not readily accept separation. Although it strives for political independence from Israel, in all other aspects it wishes to maintain dependence on Israel (especially in economics). But, argues Schueftan, Israeli interests, not Palestinian wishes, must dictate Israeli policy.
Schueftan's work is practical in tone and style. It is also one of the first studies soberly to distance itself from the confidence about the Oslo process. A policy of disengagement is now being unilaterally implemented as Israel is currently erecting a fence at least in the northwest part of the West Bank. Nevertheless, many questions remain. What effect will unilateral separation have on Israel's Arabs? How can Israel prevent the Palestinian-controlled areas from becoming launching zones for missiles and other deadly weapons. And what effect will it have on the image of Israel's resolve?