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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Buji Herzog's mea culpa one of many about Gush Katif, most Israeli Jews favor retaking and rebuilding Gaza

Sunday will mark the 10th anniversary of the expulsion of some 8,000 Jews from Gaza. The expulsion was originally scheduled to happen on Tisha b'Av (that year, it actually fell on Sunday and was not delayed to Sunday as it is this year), but at the last minute, the government realized the deep historic symbolism that would evoke and postponed the expulsion (in those days it was all but forbidden to refer to it publicly as an 'expulsion' - it was called a 'disengagement') to Monday, which was the day after the fast.

There have been many mea culpas over the expulsion of Gaza's (often referred to as Gush Katif's because the vast majority of the Jewish residents were there) Jews. But perhaps none so incredible as hearing it from opposition leader Yitzchak 'Buji' Herzog.
Disengagement from Gaza was a mistake in terms of security, Zionist Union chairman MK Isaac Herzog said Monday. “I don’t believe in the ability to take unilateral steps diplomatically, but only by agreement,” opposition leader Herzog added.
Speaking at a conference marking 10 years since the disengagement, Herzog said he thinks “that it is important to rally support so that Israel does not become an Arab-Jewish state at the end of the road. We must go to an agreement, and only an agreement that stands up to all the difficulties,” he said, the peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan as examples. The conference was held in Nitzan, a community near Asheklon where many evacuees of the Gush Katif settlements in Gaza now live.
Herzog also spoke about the disengagement at a conference last week sponsored by the Israel Democracy Institute and the conservative daily Makor Rishon. There, he said that people from his side of the political spectrum “also need to think about whether the move in general was right. In principle it was the right move to separate from the Palestinians. We took 8,000 people out of a sea of Palestinians, but in implementation it was a decision full of mistakes.”
“Unilateral evacuation caused a feeling of deep national trauma and the public understands today that when we said Gaza will be the Hong Kong of the Middle East, we failed to understand and the opposite happened,” he added. “Any separation that comes must be the result of agreement with the Palestinians and on the basis of a regional infrastructure and of an updated Arab peace initiative. Because unilateral evacuation today, following the lessons of the disengagement, will not work.”
It was the Left that pushed then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to expel Gush Katif's Jews (apparently threatening him and his sons with jail if they did not carry it out). And once he adopted the cause, he did so with vigor, literally running over the opposition (which was a significant number of Israelis if not a majority).

But here's the truly astounding part: Until now, polls have said that Israelis regret the expulsion but would not consider going back. That's no longer true. 51% of Israeli Jews now believe that the government should retake Gaza and rebuild the Jewish communities that were destroyed ten years ago.
Some 51 percent of Israeli Jews said they were in favor of rebuilding Gush Katif where more than 8,000 Israelis lived prior to the 2005 withdrawal.
The poll published on the NRG news website collected the responses of 587 people.
Israel evacuated Gush Katif and parts of northern Samaria in 2005 under a plan launched by then prime minister Ariel Sharon.
The poll, part of a series being conducted by Israeli institutes and the media upon the ten-year anniversary of the Disengagement, reflects past polls indicating that the Israeli public is highly pessimistic over the withdrawal. A poll published in Maariv earlier this month showed that the vast majority of the public believed that the move represents a political, diplomatic, and domestic failure.

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