Thomas L. Friedman, MA, Foreign Affairs Columnist for the New York Times, in a Apr. 15, 2004 commentary titled "From Gaza to Baghdad," wrote:
"Ariel Sharon has declared his intention to withdraw Israeli forces and
settlements from the Gaza Strip -— without any formal agreement with
the Palestinians. Mr. Sharon has given up on negotiating with Arafat,
let alone Hamas, but he finally understands that Israel cannot go on
controlling all these Palestinian lands and remain a Jewish democracy.
So he is unilaterally pulling out of Gaza, just as his predecessor,
Ehud Barak, pulled out of South Lebanon: you want it, it's yours."
Is Sharon's Disengagement Plan an Acceptable Step and/or Solution?
Shlomo Ben-Ami, PhD, former Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs, in a Apr. 27, 2004 Open Democracy editorial titled "Sharon's Gaza Disengagement: Roadmap to a Palestinian State?" wrote:
"I believe that the Gaza disengagement project can be a platform worth supporting by both the Palestinians and the international community, if it is executed in the framework of an overall peace plan -- the Quartet's roadmap published on 1 May 2003, for example -- and of a coordinated international effort to prevent a chaotic vacuum of authority in the Gaza strip after Israel has withdrawn its military and civilian presence...
With all its deficiencies, the Gaza project is now the only practical proposal on offer."
Edward S. Walker, Jr., MA, former Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, in a Apr. 13, 2004 Middle East Institute Perspective article titled "The Sharon Plan," wrote:
"I had serious doubts when I first heard of Sharon’s Gaza proposal... I
have since come to believe, however, that what the Prime Minister is
proposing may be the only way to break open the impasse that binds the
West Bank and Gaza into a morass of violence."
George W. Bush, MBA, US President, in a Apr. 14, 2004 Office of the Press Secretary release titled "President Bush Commends Israeli Prime Minister Sharon's Plan," stated:
"Israel plans to remove certain military installations and all
settlements from Gaza, and certain military installations and
settlements from the West Bank. These are historic and courageous
actions. If all parties choose to embrace this moment they can open the
door to progress and put an end to one of the world's longest running
Gerald M. Steinberg, PhD, MSc, Director of the Program on Conflict Management and Negotiation at Bar Ilan University, in a Feb. 9, 2004 bitterlemons.org editorial titled "Israel's Best Option," wrote:
"The evolution of a pragmatic Palestinian leadership anchored in basic societal changes will take many years or decades. Until then, Geneva and other paper concepts discussed under Arafat’s watchful eye simply lack credibility, and public relations campaigns supported by the EU will not change this situation.
Under these conditions, unilateral disengagement has become the least bad option, as many Israelis, including Sharon, now recognize."
Hatem Abdel Qader, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council from Jerusalem and the Higher Committee of Fatah, in a Feb. 9, 2004 bitterlemons.org interview titled "Killing the Roadmap," stated:
"We feel that Sharon’s plan is dangerous because he is trying to
sidestep both international legitimacy and the roadmap... He is sending
the message that the Palestinians are a people who do not deserve a
state. These steps would abort the chances of creating a Palestinian
state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and will have many dangerous
Daniel Pipes, PhD, Director of the Middle East Forum, in a Dec. 23, 2003 New York Sun editorial titled "Reading Sharon's Mind," wrote:
"Taken at face value...the Sharon [disengagement] speech amounts to a
major blunder; were its defeatist policies put into effect, they would
spur Palestinians to engage in more violence, and so delay a resolution
of the Arab-Israeli conflict."
Ahmed Maher, Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs, as quoted in a Dec. 21, 2003 article posted on the Palestinian Authority website, titled "President Arafat Accuses U.S. Administration [of] Applauding Sharon's Plan, No Date Set for P.M. Qurei'-Sharon Meeting":
"[There is] no need for unilateral measures if Sharon would truly live
up with the Road Map and is intended to halt violence and Jewish
settlement, seizure of lands, removal of the unauthorized outposts and
Israeli troop withdrawal from the Palestinian territories."
Morton A. Klein, National President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), in a Mar. 29, 2004 ZOA editorial titled "Gaza Retreat Plan is a Mistake," wrote:
"The proposal for a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza defies
logic. Since Israel's goal is to protect its citizens against Arab
terrorism, rewarding the Arabs with territory when they have not halted
their terrorism will only increase terrorism because it will prove to
them that violence pays."