Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Gaza Pullout Fails To Yield Dividends

The month following the much anticipated withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza has yielded nothing but more attacks and more demands for additional concessions. Rather than igniting a move for a true peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the withdrawal has further weakened Israel's political clout in the region and has emboldened Hamas to increase rocket and terror attacks. (ABC: Bush, Abbas Prepare to Meet in Washington).

Israel's withdrawal from Gaza breathed new life into Palestinian militants bent on driving Israel from the West Bank and Jerusalem. West Bank resident Imam Saeed said of Israel's withdrawal, "We are so happy Gaza got rid of the occupation and we wish the same for ourselves." Hamas, meanwhile, has renewed their call for the total destruction of the Jewish state and has called the Gaza withdrawal a total victory.

Israel has long had a policy of non-negotiation with terrorist organizations. The sudden reversal of this policy in the so called "land for peace" negotiations served only to reinforce the behavior of Hamas and Hezbollah. Rather than promoting peace, Israel taught the terrorists that they could be bullied into concessions.

The withdrawal from Gaza will have lasting effects on the power struggle in the Middle East. For Israel, that balance of power has shifted. For the first time since 1967, Israel finds itself on the defensive. With the precedent set in Gaza, it will be extremely difficult for them to reestablish their image of strength in the region. Hamas and Hezbollah have now found a tactic that works against Israel. Rather than reinforcing peace, Israel has encouraged renewed violence. They have not traded land for peace, they have traded land for increased missile attacks. It was a poor trade and one that will cost them dearly for decades to come.


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