Even the most liberal of commentators on the Middle East peace process are waking up to the fact that it was a mistake for Israel to unilaterally uproot the 10,000 Jews living in the Gaza Strip in 2005.
In a piece carried in the Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times, columnist Edmund Sanders opined that the withdrawal implemented by then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon under heavy American pressure was an error in judgment by all parties involved.
Sanders noted that while "disengagement enjoyed broad support at the time" both in Israel and abroad, "almost no one calls it a success today."
Among the negative results of the withdrawal, Sanders recognizes that it "helped put Hamas in power... Security for Israelis didn't improve - and even worsened... It contributed to increased isolation for Israel internationally... It raised doubts as to whether the Palestinians are actually ready for statehood... [and] it made Israelis more cynical about the chances for future land-for-peace deals."
Just before the so-called "disengagement," Sharon and the Bush Administration promised Israelis that wholly surrendering Gaza to the Palestinians would create an atmosphere conducive to final state peace negotiations and give Israel a more free hand to defend itself, which in turn would create a deterrent against continued Palestinian attacks from Gaza.
In reality, Hamas painted the withdrawal as an Israeli retreat created by its "resistance" and rode that image to an impressive electoral victory and eventual military take-over of Gaza. Hamas then proceeded to fire thousands of rockets into southern Israel over a six-month period in 2008 that precipitated an Israeli invasion of the coastal strip. Rather than keep its word that Israel would have a more free hand in dealing with Gaza-based terror after the withdrawal, the international community blamed Israel for starting the "Gaza war" and accused the Jewish state of war crimes.
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