Last updated on: 5/19/2008 12:28:00 PM PST

Will the 2005 Gaza Withdrawal Help to Advance the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process?

PRO (yes)

Ariel Sharon, former Prime Minister of Israel, in an Aug. 15, 2005 address to the nation of Israel on the day of the implementation of the Disengagement Plan, stated:

"Gaza cannot be held onto forever. Over one million Palestinians live there, and they double their numbers with every generation. They live in incredibly cramped refugee camps, in poverty and squalor, in hotbeds of ever-increasing hatred, with no hope whatsoever on the horizon...

The world awaits the Palestinian response – a hand offered in peace or continued terrorist fire. To a hand offered in peace, we will respond with an olive branch...

We are embarking on a new path which has many risks, but also a ray of hope for all of us.

With the help of God, may this path be one of unity and not division, of mutual respect, and not animosity between brothers, of unconditional love, and not baseless hatred."

Aug. 15, 2005 - Ariel Sharon 

Javier Solana, PhD, High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the Secretary-General of both the Council of the European Union (EU) and the Western European Union (WEU), in a Aug. 23, 2005 article in Ha'aretz titled, "Israel`s Disengagement - A Huge Challenge, a Great Opportunity," wrote:

"Israel's disengagement from Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank has now started. This is a momentous occasion, for both the Israeli and Palestinian people. For a long time, the quest for a Palestinian state seemed hopeless. Now the parties have a chance to do something about it...

Disengagement is a huge challenge but also a great opportunity. If successful, it could revive the long-stalled peace process and enable a return to the negotiating track and the implementation of the road map plan."

Aug. 23, 2005 - Javier Solana, PhD 

Kofi Annan, MS, former United Nations Secretary General, was quoted in a May 4, 2004 article posted on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) website titled "Mideast Quartet Offers Support for Gaza Withdrawal Plan":

"This initiative, which must lead to a full Israeli withdrawal and complete end of occupation in Gaza, can be a step towards achieving the two-state vision and could restart progress on the roadmap."

May 4, 2004 - Kofi Annan, MS 

Jack Straw, former Foreign Secretary for the United Kingdom, in a June 23, 2005 joint press conference with the former Quartet Special Envoy to the Middle East, Jim Wolfenson (posted as a transcript on the United Nations website on Israel and the Palestinian Territories), was qouted:

"I have now been Foreign Secretary for the United Kingdom for more than 4 years. For much of that period the issue of the Middle East, I am sad to say, has been dealt with at the level of rhetoric. We have moved on a big step in recent months because we are now focussing on some practical realities - great opportunities but also potential difficulties as well - and the focus is on the Gaza withdrawal following the courageous decision by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the Israeli Government to withdraw from Gaza to ensure that that withdrawal is the first stage in the building of a viable and separate State of Palestine living alongside a secure State of Israel."

June 23, 2005 - Jack Straw 

The Group of Eight (G-8), an international forum for the governments of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, wrote in a press statement made at the June 10, 2004 G-8 summit hosted by the US in Sea Island, Georgia, posted on the website of the White House:

"The G8 welcomes the prospect of Israeli withdrawal from all Gaza settlements and from parts of the West Bank, following the Israeli Cabinet decision to endorse Prime Minister Sharon's initiative. The G8 looks forward to the implementation of this decision in 2005, recalling the Quartet statement of 4 May that it 'welcomes and encourages such a step, which should provide a rare moment of opportunity in the search for peace in the Middle East.' The G8 hopes that this disengagement initiative will stimulate progress towards peace in the region, the realization of Palestinian national aspirations and the achievement of our common objective of two states, Israel and a viable, democratic, sovereign and contiguous Palestine, living side by side in peace and security."

June 10, 2004 - Group of Eight (G-8) 

The United Nations, in a July 13, 2004 Security Council Press Release said:

"If the proposed Israeli withdrawal from Gaza were implemented in the right way, it would open up an unprecedented opportunity for progress towards peace..."

July 13, 2004 - United Nations (UN) 

Yossi Beilin, PhD, Israeli member of Knesset and former Chairman of the Meretz-Yachad party, wrote in a July 28, 2004 live internet Q&A on Ha'aretz online titled "Q&A with Yahad leader Yossi Beilin":

"...[T]he fact that Sharon, father of the settlement movement, will dismantle settlements is an important one. Therefore, the Peace Camp, and Yachad Party in particular, will support the plan once it is put forth in the Knesset, and will do its outmost to use the withdrawal's momentum to renew the peace process."

July 28, 2004 - Yossi Beilin, PhD 

CON (no)

Ariel Sharon, former Prime Minister of Israel, according to an Apr. 5, 2005 New York Sun article by Daniel Pipes was quoted saying:

"A unilateral withdrawal is not a recipe for peace. It is a recipe for war."

Apr. 5, 2005 - Ariel Sharon 
Daniel Pipes, PhD 

Dov Weisglass, Chief of Staff to former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, was quoted in a Nov. 10, 2005 interview with Ha'aretz:

"The disengagement plan is the preservative of the sequence principle. It is the bottle of formaldehyde within which you place the president's formula so that it will be preserved for a very lengthy period. The disengagement is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that's necessary so that there will not be a political process with the Palestinians...

The American term is to park conveniently. The disengagement plan makes it possible for Israel to park conveniently in an interim situation that distances us as far as possible from political pressure. It legitimizes our contention that there is no negotiating with the Palestinians. There is a decision here to do the minimum possible in order to maintain our political situation."

Nov. 10, 2005 - Dov Weisglass 

The Palestine Liberation Organization Negotiations Affairs Department (PLONAD), wrote in a Feb. 2007 document posted on its website, under the header "Fact Sheets" and titled "Gaza After 'Disengagement': Legal and Political Realities (Feb. 2007)":

"When Israel evacuated its settlers and redeployed its troops from Gaza in August and September 2005, Palestinians were hopeful that 'disengagement' would signal a move towards renewed efforts at achieving a comprehensive peace and ending the occupation that began in 1967. At the same time, Palestinians feared that Israel still intended to control Gaza and its inhabitants, albeit in a more convenient, less costly manner for Israel.

More than one year on, Palestinian fears have been confirmed. Israel continues to subject Palestinians living in Gaza, like those in the West Bank, to its control. Gazans require Israel’s consent to travel to and from Gaza, to take their goods to Palestinian and foreign markets, to acquire food and medicine, and to access water and electricity. Without Israel’s permission, the Palestinian Authority (PA) cannot perform such basic functions of government as providing social and health services, providing security, setting immigration policy, developing the Palestinian economy and allocating resources."

Feb. 2007 - Palestine Liberation Organization Negotiations Affairs Department (PLONAD) 

Marcia Freedman, MA, Founding President of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, in an Aug. 17, 2007 letter to in response to the above stated question, wrote:

"No. The Gaza withdrawal has already impeded the peace process, and it will continue to do so unless there is a serious shift in U.S. foreign policy.

The withdrawal from Gaza was carried out unilaterally, with no meaningful coordination with the Palestinian Authority under the leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas had been known to the Israeli peace movement for decades for his unwavering commitment to nonviolence. As a result of repeated Israeli diplomatic non-starters during the Gaza withdrawal, Abbas quickly lost standing with his people...

Had there been full coordination and cooperation prior to the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, Abbas-controlled security forces would have been trained, armed, known to be loyal and in place in Gaza, able to establish and maintain public order; internationally recognized agreements about how the border crossings would operate would have been in place, with their operation under international control...

Instead, the Gaza withdrawal, deceptively couched by Ariel Sharon in terms of ending the occupation of Gaza, did remove the settlements there and redeployed the Israeli army to behind the 1967 southern truce line with Egypt. But Israel's control over Gaza remains intact -- including land, air and sea ports; electricity, water, food, and medical supplies, all ability to import and export...

Without the participation of all Palestinians in territories occupied by Israel in ratifying a peace agreement, and by a wide margin, there is little chance that any agreement will succeed in permanently resolving the conflict."

Aug. 17, 2007 - Marcia Freedman, MA 

Ran Baratz, Adjunct Fellow at the Shalem Center's Institute for Philosophy, Politics and Religion in Jerusalem, wrote the following in an Aug. 1, 2007 email correspondence with

"Instead of encouraging peace negotiations and empowering Palestinian moderates, the Gaza withdrawal downgraded the liberal Palestinian movements, strengthened fanaticism by making terror and violence profitable, enthroned radical Islam, and suppressed the democratic and humanist development of a very young and insecure Arab nation (it should be noted the Hamas won the elections not only in the Gaza strip but also in Judea and Samaria).

Radical Islam, now empowered, did not waste any time. It immediately set out to impose Islamic rule, drowning its opposition in rivers of Palestinian blood. 'Judenrein' Gaza transformed into a Somalia, temperance is now an empty word, and the prospects for peace, with Iran and Syria supporting and financing the violent and terrorist Palestinian sects now in power, are gone with the eastern wind until who knows when."

Aug. 1, 2007 - Ran Baratz 

Charley Reese, syndicated columnist, in a Sep. 17, 2005 article posted on titled "Gaza Withdrawal Is Not Enough," wrote:

"Now that Israel has evacuated from the Gaza Strip, we can forget about any serious peace negotiations with the Palestinians. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has done all he is going to do. In the words of a close adviser published some months ago in Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, there will be no serious negotiations 'until they (the Palestinians) turn into Finns.'"

Sep. 17, 2005 - Charley Reese