News / Middle East

Gaza Lessons Harden Israeli Views on Security, Ahead of Peace Talks

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +

As Israelis and Palestinians head into U.S.-brokered negotiations, both sides are drawing lessons from Israel's unilateral pullout from the Gaza Strip, five years ago.  By removing thousands of Jewish settlers and Israeli troops, Israel hoped to ease tensions.   Israelis wanted security.  The Palestinians hoped greater autonomy would bring peace and prosperity.  Since the withdrawal, neither side has achieved its goals.  For Israelis, the violence of the last five years gave a lesson that has hardened their reluctance to agree to a total pullout from the West Bank - a key issue in the talks.


Hopes dashed

Aziz Aziz owns a clothing factory in the northern Gaza Strip.  Five years ago, he was full of hope that the end of the Israeli occupation was going to mean more business opportunity.

Aziz says that five years after the Jews left Gaza, he expected his situation to be better than it is.  He believed that life would be better and that the economy would grow.  But he says he has seen the opposite happen.  He says that, for the last five years, everything has gone backward.

Aziz had secured lucrative export contracts, but his dreams faded when fighting erupted between rival factions -- President Mahmoud Abbas' moderate Fatah and the militant Islamist group, Hamas.

Gaza descended into chaos, with members of both factions fighting in the streets.



What happened?


Israel imposed a tight embargo when Hamas seized control of Gaza and militants who oppose the existence of a Jewish state stepped up their rocket attacks at southern Israel.

Israel responded in late 2007 with a 22-day attack that leveled much of Gaza's industrial infrastructure.

Even before the Israeli assault, the embargo had already choked fuel imports.  The isolation made exporting to world markets nearly impossible.  

Who is to blame?

With electricity off for up to six hours at a time, Aziz's factory sits idle for much of the day.  He formerly had 70 employees. Now, he struggles to keep eight.

He says he blames the Palestinians' own leadership, be it Fatah or Hamas.  He says both of them should agree and not cause harm to ordinary people.  He says the two groups have destroyed themselves and they are destroying the people.

Israeli viewpoint

Israelis also blame themselves for the way the pullout was carried out.  Their goal was to guarantee their own security, following the failure of negotiations in 2000 and a bloody Palestinian uprising that followed.

Giora Eiland - former head of Israel's National Security Council - was in charge of planning the pullout from Gaza five years ago, under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.  

He says the pullout was an expression of frustration.

"Prior to this decision, nothing clearly worked with the Palestinians," Eiland said.  "We tried to reach an agreement with them.  It didn't work out.  We tried to fight them.  It didn't succeed, as well, so the prime minister made a decision to try to divorce the Palestinians.  We thought, in quite a shallow way:  Let's evacuate the area. Let's build a fence around this area, and at the end of the day, they will be there and we will be here and this is the solution to the problem.  Obviously, it is not as simple as we thought."

Lessons learned

Israeli leaders perceive the 2005 pullout as a lesson that any kind of unilateral withdrawal will be viewed by the enemy as a sign of weakness that encourages extremists to attack.

"If Israel, as a result of a potential peace agreement with the Palestinians, will have to withdraw from a major part of the West Bank, I guess a lot of importance will be given to the security arrangements to make sure that this new vacated area would not turn out to be an area in which so many rockets and missiles and other advanced weapons are produced," Eiland said.

Security concerns

Going into the negotiations, Israel has made security its top priority.  It is demanding a demilitarized future Palestinian state and a continued Israeli presence on the border between the West Bank and Jordan -- two conditions that the Palestinians say amount to continued occupation.

Gaza's Hamas rulers have condemned the negotiations and are not taking part.

Aziz Aziz says he is placing some hope on Palestinian leaders in the West Bank, that they will draw lessons from what he says is the tragedy of Gaza.  He hopes they will find a way to end the Israeli occupation while, at the same time, safeguarding the interests of all Palestinians.  

Aziz says that, if the Israelis pull out of the West Bank, he hopes it will not happen like it did in Gaza.  If it does, he says it means that the Palestinians will be destroyed.  

He says he has hope that President Mahmoud Abbas can negotiate and reach an agreement for the good of all people in Gaza and the West Bank.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid