The Gush Katif and Northern Samaria Commemoration Center held a conference on Monday commemorating the eleventh anniversary of Israel’s “Disengagement.” Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon withdrew all Jewish presence from Gaza and four communities in northern Samaria eleven years ago in the spirit of the Road Map for Peace plan promoted by US President George W. Bush.
Several Members of Knesset attended the conference and discussed lessons that could be learned from the event.
“The Israeli government uprooted dozens of settlements and thousands of Israelis from their homes. In return, missiles rained upon our cities, our communities, and our children,” said Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel (Likud). “The argument that withdrawal would bring peace with the Palestinians, or at least bring us closer to peace, was not built on a realistic vision.”
Gamliel also argued that Israel’s presence in Gaza was not the initial cause for attacks against Israel.
“Whoever thinks that the continued hostility against Israel is a result of our presence in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza is mistaken,” she claimed.
“We were attacked before a single Israeli soldier was ever in Judea and Samaria,” continued Gamliel, referencing instances in which Israel was attacked by its Arab neighbors in the years before Israel gained control of Judea and Samaria in 1967.
Gamliel insisted that Israel must stop the Palestinian Authority from allowing and encouraging incitement to take place in communities under its jurisdiction.
“We should demand first and foremost the cessation of incitement in the Palestinian Authority and we have to hope that the Israeli people learned a moral lesson from the expulsion in that there should be no further expulsion of Jews,” she stressed. “So long as entire generations in the Palestinian Authority are taught to be anti-Semitic, there is no chance for peace.”
Zionist Union MK Merav Michaeli, who was also in attendance, said that she had disagreed with the Disengagement when it was implemented.
“I was opposed to the Disengagement at the time,” Michaeli said. “I thought that although we had to leave the Gaza Strip, we could not tear the community apart without ensuring that security and quiet would follow. In other words, we should have left with an agreement.”
Although MK Michaeli acknowledged that Israel has faced threats to its security from Gaza in the years following the Disengagement, she expressed her belief that the Disengagement ultimately saved lives, albeit having been implemented in the wrong manner.
“The question now is what to do next,” she asked, adding that she hoped that a future solution to the conflict would allow as many people to remain in their homes as possible.
By Jonathan Benedek/TPS-Tazpit News Agency