The Yesha Council of Judea, Samaria and Gaza communities has published a collection of statements by public figures who supported or helped implement the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria and have since expressed regret. The following are some of the statements:
Maj.-Gen (ret.) Yiftah Ron-Tal, IDF ground forces commander at the time of the Disengagement: In the year preceding the Disengagement, the army trained mostly for dismantling communities, and that prevented it from preparedness for the war in Lebanon. The training for the Disengagement not only prevented preparedness for such a war, but dragged it away from the consensus as a people’s army. It is nearly certain that the excitement of those who led the decision and implementation of this is directly tied to the big failure in Lebanon…I still cannot understand how Israel gave up parts of its land willingly and with abandon, and how the residents connected to that land were turned into criminals, instead of raising their dedication as a banner of preserving the Jewish identity of the state of Israel.
- Kfar Chabad weekly, October 6, 2006
Ilana Dayan, Journalist, Host of Popular ‘Uvda’(Fact) Program on Channel 2: How come nobody is standing up and asking where this rain of Kassams is coming from? Why didn’t we ask the deep questions? Why didn’t we wonder whether this was the right way – even for those of us who wanted to divide the land? Why did we only examine the Disengagement when ‘orange’ youth burned tires in the street? Why did [Sharon confidant and Disengagement architect] Dov Weisglas not tell us there would be a rain of Kassams on Sderot? Because this wasn’t popular and because there was a strong prime minister [Ariel Sharon] with a firm hold on the central hubs of the media.
- address at B’nai Brith journalism prize ceremony, June 22, 2006
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, Chairman of the National Security Council and one of the Disengagement’s chief architects: There was no forward contemplation. The Disengagement contributed nothing to a solution to the conflict…There was no discussion of its merits. When I was tasked with planning it, all that existed was the word ‘Disengagement’ used by Sharon at the Herzliya Conference…I was given four months to plan, but Dov Weisglas was already committing to the Americans and leaking details of the withdrawal plans to the press…The paradigm of two states for two nations is not implementable. Perhaps the whole world agrees to it, but on the ground, it simply cannot be done.
- Haaretz, June 1, 2006
Avri Gilad, broadcaster and TV personality who supported Disengagement: I supported the Disengagement. I was mistaken. The way it was carried out was a crime.
-Maariv, January 23, 2007
From a practical perspective, pragmatic and seeing the situation for what it is – the orange public was right…Large segments of the public supported the plan out of general ideological reasons.
-Army Radio, HaMilah Acharona, June 26, 2006
Brig.-Gen. (Res.) Moshe Ya’alon, IDF Chief of Staff at the time the government decided to carry out the Disengagement: “There is no escaping the fact that the background leading to the decision was a political crisis – the decline in support for the prime minister, and added to that was a personal crisis – the investigations into corruption…Examining the Disengagement in hindsight opposite Israel’s interests, it was the worst possible…Israel withdrew from every millimeter, including evacuating settlements, received nothing in return, and thus created a very problematic precedent.”
- Maariv, February 24, 2006
Ron Ben Yishai, senior journalist for military affairs: The fact that they mixed the IDF up with the Disengagement, that the army was forced to do the job of the police, was a heavy blow to motivation. Not to mention that the IDF didn’t train for an entire year, during which it dealt only with evacuations. We have to put the IDF back in uniform.
- Army Radio, Ma Boer, February 14, 2007
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, a major backer of the Disengagement: The more we take the army out of the territories, the more terror nests develop.
- Address to the Center For Local Government, January 4, 2007
Professor Aaron Ciechanover, 2004 Nobel Prize Laureate for Chemistry, vocal Disengagement advocate: I supported the idea of Disengagement last year, which seemed to me an act of unilateral volunteerism toward the Palestinians. I hoped our kindness would be returned, but I was mistaken. After our unilateral withdrawal we received only terrorism and more terrorism. The unilateral idea is bankrupt and along with it the party soap bubble of a party that was established on its basis.
- Yediot Acharonot, October 27, 2006
Yoel Marcus, left-wing commentator for Haaretz and ardent Disengagement supporter: To my great sorrow, it now seems that the extremist and pessimistic settlers were those who were right. The Palestinians do not wish to recognize Israel and have not accepted its existence. And now, with the election of Hamas, they again are not missing any opportunity to miss an opportunity…They turned the communities of Gush Katif into launch sites against residents of the Negev and particularly the town of Sderot. The warnings of Ariel Sharon and Dan Halutz that ‘If they will fire Kassams after Gaza is evacuated, Israel’s response will be harsh’ has not really frightened them.
-Haaretz, November 21, 2006
Hillel Halkin, Author and political commentator: Indeed, splitting the Likud was a bad thing. But so, it is necessary to say two years later, was disengagement. Those who were for it, like myself, were wrong. Those who were against it, like Mr. Netanyahu, were right...At great economic cost and at the price of a deep inner rift in Israeli society that still has not healed, 8,000 Jewish settlers were uprooted from their homes in return for supposed benefits, none of which has materialized. Gaza has become more, not less, of a military menace to Israel; Palestinian politics and the Palestinian street have become more, not less, radicalized; Israel's public image as an occupying country has not significantly improved in the world; and further unilateral disengagement in the West Bank as a possible way of solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has turned out to be a chimera, in large measure because of the failure of what was supposed to be its Gazan first stage.
-New York Sun, May 29, 2007
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the first to float Ariel Sharon's Disengagement plan to the media: It must be said that that the experience we had in Lebanon and Gaza are not encouraging. We completely withdrew from Gaza, and every day they fire Kassam rockets on Israelis.
- Interview with Chinese media, January 8, 2007
Yaron London, Ynet commentator and host of Channel 10 London & Kirshenbaum Show, supported Disengagement: Nothing was built on the rubble except for terrorist training camps…The wall does not guarantee quiet: Kassams fly over it and terrorists dig under it.
- Ynet, June 26, 2006
Meirav Michaeli, TV anchor and radio personality identified with left-wing and feminist activism: The Disengagement left thousands of families without a home, escalated the situation in Gaza and did not advance the security situation at all.
- Ynet, February 19, 2007
Vice-Premier Shimon Peres, Oslo Accords architect and withdrawal proponent: The Disengagement idea is over. There will not be a repeat in Judea and Samaria of the Gaza withdrawal. There will not be a massive evacuation of settlements…Public opinion is against the idea of another unilateral Disengagement. Therefore, this won’t occur, at least in the next five year, or even the next decade.
- Yediot Acharonot, September 8, 2006
Yehoshua Sobol, author and prominent left-wing spokesperson and proponent of left-wing refusal to serve in the IDF: Nothing is being built there [in Gaza] these days. Nothing – nothing but destructive activities. This assumption, that it is enough or us to leave territory in order for the other side to stop its attacks has proven false…I do not want to see a situation where we once again fold, in Judea and Samaria, and the next day Kassam rockets begin to be fired on Kfar Saba, Raanana and Herzliya.
- Reshet Bet, July 27, 2006
Shabak (General Security Service) chief Yuval Diskin: The Disengagement was first and foremost a process of uprooting. There is in Israel a Laundromat of words. They call it an evacuation or all sorts of other things, but there was an uprooting here.
- Lecture at the pre-army academy in Eli, February 6, 2007
IDF Central Commander Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh: I claimed from the beginning that there was not [a single] security consideration in the Disengagement. This was a purely political decision whose motivations will perhaps someday be investigated.
- Maariv, April 19, 2007
Yair Lapid, popular TV personality and commentator: The Disengagement was not carried out despite the settlers but because of them. It never had anything to do with the Palestinians, with demographics, with a peace agreement, with the IDF or with any of the other explanations given and reviewed over and over. The drive was one thing: to teach the settlers a lesson in modesty. The Disengagement is now examined with other tools – political, strategic and demographic – and it doesn’t stand up to the test, especially while Kassams are falling on Sderot and Ashkelon.
- Yediot Acharonot, October 13, 2006
We left Lebanon and the Hizbullah attack us from Lebanon. We left Gaza and the terror groups attack us from Gaza. The region that is most quiet right now is Judea and Samaria. Even the biggest leftists are faced with the creeping heretical though: perhaps it wasn’t the occupation?
-Yediot Acharonot, column
MK Amira Dotan (Kadima), head of the Knesset committee for Gush Katif evacuees, supported the Disengagement: In hi-tech, when you do something, you examine it fully before you say it is OK. Here, we did something without examining what would happen afterward. There was no working model created beforehand.
- HaTzofeh, August 6, 2006
Absorption Minister Ze’ev Boim, who supported the Disengagement as Deputy Defense Minister in the Sharon government and left the Likud to join Kadima: From the beginning, the plan had some question marks which, after the fact, became clear were serious defects in the plan. We lost the Philadelphi Corridor [between Gaza and Egypt, though which weapons and explosives are smuggled –ed.]. It was a mistake to give up control of Philadelphi.
-Jerusalem Conference address, March 20, 2007
Senior TV newsanchor Dan Margalit, a strong supporter of Disengagement: Ehud Olmert has lost the mandate for a withdrawal from Judea and Samaria that he received when elected on the platform of such a withdrawal. When such a withdrawal is once again presented, I will think again before choosing it at the ballot box.
- Maariv, July 28, 2006
Maj.-Gen. Gershon HaCohen, who commanded the Disengagement and expressed his public agreement with it prior to implementation: What happened last year was a crime, and I was part of this crime against the Jewish nation. What is happening now – the Second Lebanon War – is the punishment for what happened last year.
- on visit to bereaved family, August 24, 2006