The Israel Project, an international non-profit organization, today reported on Israel’s attempts to find a peace partner on the Palestinian side. It seems the Palestinians want all or nothing, and they would much prefer to keep fighting and complaining, rather than negotiate in good faith.
Looking back to May 1967, the armies of Egypt, Jordan and Syria, backed by other Arab countries gathered on Israel’s borders. Their only goal was to wipe out Israel. Rather than wait to be attacked, Israel launched a pre-emptive attack and unexpectedly gained control over land including the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
Later, in an agreement with Egypt, Israel gave up about 90 percent of the territory it captured, evacuating the Sinai Peninsula.
Over the years since then, after numerous bids to find a partner for peace with the Palestinians, in August 2005 Israel carried out an unpopular unilateral disengagement initiative. Israel handed over all of Gaza and part of the West Bank to the Palestinians.
Israel was the first country in modern history to give up land acquired in a defensive war.
During The Unilateral Withdrawal
Israel evacuated completely from the Gaza Strip, and it was handed over to the Palestinians. There were previously 21 Israeli settlements there, and four Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Possibly one of the most difficult things, for the Israelis who lived in Gush Katif, was that 48 graves in the Gush Katif Cemetery, including six graves of area residents murdered by terrorists, were uprooted.
Some of the Israelis were forcibly removed by some of the 45,000 Israeli soldiers and policemen, because they did not want to leave.
Moving Israelis out of the two areas was expensive. The approximate average compensation to move each family was estimated at approximately $360,000, a total of $870 million
In addition $500 million was spent to relocate Israel Defense Forces bases outside the Gaza Strip and build new border crossing facilities.
300 square miles of the West Bank were evacuated. 9,000 is the approximate number of Israelis, including 1,700 Israeli families, that resided in the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank. All of them were moved out as part of the withdrawal. 38 synagogues were dismantled in the Gaza Strip. 5,000 school-age children had to find new schools. 42 daycare centers were closed in the Gaza Strip. 36 kindergartens were closed in the Gaza Strip. 7 elementary schools were closed in the Gaza Strip. 3 high schools were closed in the Gaza Strip. 320 mobile homes, ordered by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, served as temporary housing for settlers, with approximately 300 additional mobile homes to be ordered in the future. 45,000 Israeli soldiers and policemen participated in the Gaza withdrawal. $1.7 billion was the approximate cost to the Israeli government for the withdrawal initiative. 166 active Israeli farmers were moved out of Gaza. 800 cows, the second largest dairy farm in Israel, were moved out of Gush Katif. $120 million in flowers and produce exported annually from Gush Katif were lost. 1 zoo, the “Katifari,” that housed hundreds of animals was moved. 10,000 people employed in agriculture and related industries in Gush Katif, including 5,000 Palestinians, are in need of new employment. 60% of Israel’s cherry tomato exports came from the Gaza Strip. Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza extinguished this economic resource. 3.5 million square meters (almost 1,000 acres) of greenhouses were abandoned in Gaza. 70% of Israel’s organic produce was produced in Gaza. This was another economic resource that was lost. 60% of the herbs exported from Israel came from Gush Katif. 15% of Israel’s agricultural exports originated in Gaza – exports that were lost following Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza.
After The Unilateral Israeli Withdrawal
430,000 West Bank Palestinians are able to move freely within and between Palestinian controlled areas. No Israelis, dead or alive, remained in Gaza. 1.2 million Arabs remained full and legal citizens of Israel. All Israeli citizens – Christians, Muslims, and Jews – have freedom of speech, religion, press, and the right to vote. 1.3 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, many of them in Palestinian Authority-controlled refugee camps, live under their own leaders. 820,000 Jewish refugees, forced to flee without their belongings from Arab countries between 1947 and 1949, still have no compensation for their losses from Arab governments. 650,000 Arab refugees who left Israel between 1947 and 1949 still need Palestinian leaders who will end terrorism and the culture of hate.
Israel’s withdrawal from four northern West Bank settlements created an area more than twice the size of Gaza’s 140 square miles under Palestinian control and devoid of any Israeli presence.