Minister of Infrastructure and former Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor) is the latest senior politician to admit that the 2005 Disengagement was a mistake.
Speaking in an interview with Radio L’lo Hafsaka, a regional radio station, Ben-Eliezer dropped the bombshell: "I admit and I confess that I was among those who strongly supported [former PM] Ariel Sharon [and the Disengagement]. Today I say, with my head held high, ‘We erred, we made a very big mistake.’”
Ben Eliezer did not say it was the withdrawal itself and abandonment of parts of the Land of Israel that was the problem, but rather the nature of the recipients of the territory. "Withdrawals can only work when the areas are handed over to responsible hands and rooted in agreements and international guarantees,” he explained. “Here we have a precedent - a territory we left turns into a base for terror - period."
Ben Eliezer also called for a wide scale counter-terror offensive in Gaza, complaining that Israel’s fear of harming civilians was harming its own populace instead. "Israel continues to say we bind ourselves to these ethical obligations that no other country in the world is bound by. We are facing a conflict here between two disciplines. One nation is prepared to commit suicide and sees it as a religious imperative and an honor, the other wants to spare every ounce of blood."
MK Reuven Rivlin, an opponent of the withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria from the outset, responded to MK Ben Eliezer’s about-face with alarm. “It is horrifying that someone who pushed for the Disengagement and saw in it a ‘window of opportunity’ can now simply say such a thing while his colleagues in the government are signaling that they once again see it as proper to give up the essential interests of the State of Israel,” Rivlin said.
Ben Eliezer is but the latest in a parade of Disengagement-regretting politicians and public figures, including:
- Maj.-Gen (ret.) Yiftah Ron-Tal, IDF ground forces commander at the time of the Disengagement
- Left-wing journalist Ilana Dayan
- Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, Chairman of the National Security Council and one of the Disengagement’s chief architects
- Avri Gilad, broadcaster and TV personality who supported Disengagement
- Brig.-Gen. (Res.) Moshe Ya’alon, IDF Chief of Staff at the time the government decided to carry out the Disengagement
- Yoel Marcus, left-wing commentator for Haaretz and ardent Disengagement supporter
- Yehoshua Sobol, author and prominent left-wing spokesperson and proponent of left-wing refusal to serve in the IDF
- IDF Central Commander Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh
- Yair Lapid, popular TV personality and commentator
- Senior TV news anchor Dan Margalit, a strong supporter of Disengagement
- Maj.-Gen. Gershon HaCohen, who commanded the Disengagement and expressed his public agreement with it prior to implementation
- Several others