If the goal were security, Israel would have built the fence a few km inside its borders. It could then be a mile high, patrolled on both sides by the IDF, mined with nuclear weapons, utterly impenetrable. Perfect security.
The problem would be that it would not take valuable Palestinian land and resources (including control of water), drive out the population, and lay the basis for still further expansion as Palestinians flee from the dungeons that are left, like the town of Qalqilya. So to interpret as a land grab seems appropriate.
Doubtless a side benefit is to increase a narrow form of “security,” while probably in the long run seriously increasing insecurity not only because of the regional impact but because sooner or later it is likely to inspire terrorist acts against Israelis abroad in revenge. But terror and security are not driving concerns, any more than they have a high priority in the planning of “the boss-man called `partner’,” as more astute Israeli commentators describe Washington.
Sharon’s strategic thinking seems straightforward enough. There are excellent descriptions in recent books by Tanya Reinhart and Baruch Kimmerling. It is also not radically different from that of Rabin and Peres. The goal is to take over the valuable parts of the West Bank (Gaza is mostly a burden), and to leave the population that remains under local administration, to rot and decline.
The basic principle was explained to the Cabinet of the Labor Government 30 years ago by Moshe Dayan, perhaps the most sympathetic to the Palestinians among the Israeli leadership: we should tell the Palestinians in the territories that “You shall continue to live like dogs, and whoever wishes, may leave, and we shall see where this process will lead.”
The occupation should be “permanent,” he believed, in one or another form, and to the objection that Israel must consider its moral stand, he responded that “Ben-Gurion said that whoever approaches the Zionist problem from a moral aspect is not a Zionist.”
There have been differences as to how these principles should apply, but a fair consensus among leading political echelons that if they can be applied, that’s fine. Sharon’s basic conceptions were outlined years ago, and he is pursuing them systematically, relying on the material and diplomatic support of the boss-man.
Across the spectrum, the “ideal” solution might well be something like Ben-Gurion’s expansive vision that goes far beyond anything currently considered even within the realm of dreams.