Gaza Strip Pull-Out
On Tuesday, October 26, the
Knesset, Israel's parliament votes to
give up control over the Gaza Strip, the small strip
of land acquired by Israel in the course of the 1967
vote has polarized the country and the ruling Likud
party into camps that approved the withdrawal and
those who virulently opposed to the pull-out.
Israeli hardliners claimed the
pull-out amounts to a surrender to Palestinian
militant groups like Hamas.
Although Hamas has much influence
in the Gaza Strip, Sharon has argued that the
Palestinian Authority has large forces in Gaza that
have been almost unharmed by Israeli operations.
2) Line of defense.
Israeli Gaza settlers contend that
their communities constitute a line of defense for
the country, absorbing attacks by Palestinian
militants that would otherwise be directed at towns
and cities within Israel. .
3) Preemptive Decision.
Sharon argued that if Israel does
nothing, the country will come under increasing
international pressure to give up even more land.
4) Delays the creation of
Sharon said the Gaza plan could
delay Palestinian dreams of statehood for many years.
(The Road Map envisions the creation of
a Palestinian state by 2005).
5) Gaza in exchange for the West Bank.
Palestinians fear that this is an
Israeli ruse to trade Gaza for a permanent hold over
most of the West Bank.
Indeed Sharon has used this
argument to reassure the right wing that if the Gaza
pullout goes ahead as planned, Israel will have a
much stronger case for hanging on to large
settlement blocks in the West Bank. The
Israeli settlers don't believe him.
6) The "Death Strip."
Mothers of Israeli soldiers
stationed to the area call the region the "Death
Strip" because of the dozens of young soldiers
killed while defending the Gaza settlements.
Supporters of the pull-out claim that holding on to
the Gaza strip harms rather than enhances Israel's
Polls have shown that the majority
of Israelis supported Sharon's plan to withdraw from
the Gaza Strip.
Proponents believed that Israel's
withdrawal from Gaza would rejuvenate peace talks
with the Palestinians (which have been stalled for
months) and move Israel forward in areas of
security, economy, education and industry.
2) Relations with the United
Proponents expected the pull-out
to strengthen relationship with the U.S.
Bush endorsed the plan in April and added that
Israel had the right to retain some West Bank land
in a future peace deal.
1) Opponents believe a withdrawal
would create an endless spiral of Arab desire to
take all the land of Israel.
2) Opponents also claimed the plan
amounted to a "prize for terrorism."
n mid-May 2004, Ariel Sharon let
the members of the Likud Party vote on plans to
evacuate all 21 Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip
and four settlements in the West Bank. The
pull-out was expected to uproot more than 7,500
Jewish settlers living among 1.3 million
Palestinians in the area.
The pull-out referendum was
defeated after roughly 60% of the eligible 193,000
Likud voters voted against Sharon's plan.
On May 15, more than 100,000
Israelis rallied in favor of the pull-out after a
bloody week left 32 Palestinians and 13 Israelis
dead. The rally was one of the largest by Israel's
"peace camp" since Yitzhak Rabin's death.