This idea gained popularity in Israel because of weariness with the ongoing stalemated situation with the Palestinians, and a desire to DO something to make the situation better. It is draining to think the possibility of improving the situation depends on a party that has no desire to improve it.
There is the impulse to say, “We’ll decide where we want our borders to be, if you won’t negotiate with us.”
Unilaterally “doing something,” however, is not necessarily a good idea at all.
Does it make sense to withdraw Israeli presence from an area just when the Palestinians in that area are not receptive to peaceful relations? Or is this when an Israeli presence is most needed?
Can a border be set unilaterally? Will it work if the Palestinians on the other side don’t recognize that border?
The unilateral approach led to the “disengagement” from Gaza and N. Samaria in August 2005, which was a disaster from several perspectives. There had been the (very mistaken) hope that this approach would increase security.
What we see is just the opposite:
Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza was interpreted by major terrorist elements within the Palestinian society as a sign of weakness on the part of Israel. As a result, the terrorists are stronger today than they were before the “disengagement.”
They gained increased popularity in the street because they took credit for what happened, which they said was as a result of their terrorism. The idea of working through negotiations lost credibility. They have promoted the idea that the way to achieve gains is through more terrorism.
And they have been acting on this. Because Israel left the border between Gaza and Egypt (Philadelphi Corridor), it has been possible to move in sophisticated weapons from Egypt. Israel’s General Security Service reports a 900% increase in the number of anti-tank missile launchers brought in per month compared with the months before Israel pulled out, and a 600% increase in the number of missiles. An estimated five tons of explosives; 5,000 rifles and handguns, and more than a million bullets have been carried into Gaza as well. These weapons are being stockpiled, and others are being manufactured inside of Gaza.
In addition, terrorist leaders have also slipped in. There are now several Hamas leaders in Gaza who had been barred by Israel for years, and for the first time there is an Al-Qaida unit.
Withdrawal of the Israel Defense Forces from in Gaza has provided these terrorists with the opportunity to function more openly. There has been a declared intention to step up terrorism in Judea-Samaria, in an effort to drive Israel from there as well.
And so has come terrorism: barrages of Kassam rocket attacks, and attempts at suicide bombings — most, but not all, caught by Israeli Intelligence. There are as many as 40 or 50 warnings of possible attacks a day. A car loaded with explosives was found in Judea. It was going to be sent into a tunnel on a major road and exploded there.
So has come, as well, the victory of Hamas in the PA elections.
Israel can best protect herself by remaining strong and being patient in the face of a difficult situation. Terrorism will diminish only when it is clear that Israel is not moved by it — that it does not work, and when efforts are made to take out the terrorist elements.