Is post-retreat Israel seen by its neighbors as a bold nation that has taken its future into its own hands or a farce?

Egypt weighed in on this question loud and clear when Egypt’s Ambassador to Israel, Mohamed Assem, assured Israelis in an interview broadcast on Israel Radio’s noon news magazine that they should not be concerned about the smuggling of weapons from Egypt to Gaza during the border security hiatus since “there are enough weapons in Gaza as it is.”

The Palestinians certainly haven’t hidden their perception of Israel: Palestinian officials now openly admit that weapons and drugs have poured into Gaza through the open border with Egypt — but only the drugs are being seized.

But, then again, why should we be surprised? The Sharon team is also treating the Jewish State as a farce.

None of what has transpired since the retreat has had an impact on policy. If anything, pre-retreat strong talk from the Sharon team with regards to post-retreat security and security arrangements has deteriorated to mumbled vague threats liberally mixed with candid admissions that Israel has no intention to actually take serious and substantial action on the ground if its warnings are not heeded or its requirements are not met.

The appointment of Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres, a man whose cavalier attitude towards Israel’s security concerns during the course of Oslo made him the subject of ridicule, to be responsible for negotiating security arrangements at the ports and passages only serves to confirm that Israel’s neighbors are right.

Since the Peres appointment there are official Palestinian indications that Israel may not even be consulted — let alone have a hand — in vital security arrangements.

It isn’t good for any nation to be perceived as a farce. In Israel’s neighborhood it’s doubly dangerous.