They Say, We Say: The Gaza experience proves that "land for peace" doesn't work

They Say We Say We know that pro-Israel does not mean blindly supporting policies that are irrational, reckless, and counter-productive. Pro-Israel means supporting policies that are consistent with Israel's interests and promote its survival as a Jewish, democratic state.

You've heard the arguments of the religious and political right-wing, and so have we. They've had their say. Now, we'll have ours.

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Why Should Israel have to give up land?

They Say:

In 2005, Israel gave Gaza to the Palestinians. Israel gave up every inch of the land, uprooting thousands of settlers and relinquishing strategically vital territory. Rather than getting peace in return, Israel got terror: Hamas control of Gaza, Qassam rockets raining down on southern Israel, and the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit. The Gaza experience proves that "land for peace" doesn't work.

We Say:

Violence in Gaza and southern Israel in the aftermath of Israel's 2005 "disengagement" doesn't discredit the concept of exchanging land for peace. Rather, it demonstrates the foolishness of the notion that Israel can substitute unilateral actions for negotiated agreements and expect results that are beneficial to Israel.

Even before the "disengagement" from Gaza took place, APN - which had long called for an end to Israeli settlement in Gaza - warned of the dangers of a unilateral withdrawal. We warned that by refusing to negotiate, or even effectively coordinate, the withdrawal with then-newly elected Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas - whose election platform centered on re-starting peace negotiations - Israel would undermine Abbas' credibility and deliver a public relations coup to Hamas.

We warned that under such circumstances, Hamas would likely gain more power and popularity in Gaza. We argued that Israel would be better off negotiating its withdrawal with a legitimate Palestinian partner who could agree to the terms of the withdrawal and accept the responsibility to uphold and maintain agreed-upon post-withdrawal arrangements and coordination mechanisms.

But then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was adamantly opposed to negotiating the withdrawal with Abbas. The result was evident in the 2006 Palestinian elections that catapulted Hamas to power and set the stage for the violence that followed. Ever since, Israel has been forced to grapple with precisely the unintended consequences we warned of in 2005.