Herzog: No One Wants to Return to Gush Katif

10 years since Disengagement, Opposition head says unilateral move failed but was 'correct,' demands a Gaza peace agreement.

Shlomo Pyotrkovsky,

Yitzhak Herzog at the conference
Yitzhak Herzog at the conference
Arik Sultan

Opposition leader and Labor chairperson Yitzhak Herzog on Monday marked ten years since the 2005 Disengagement plan, in which all Jews were expelled from Gush Katif in Gaza, by claiming "no one" wants to return to the once blossoming communities.

Speaking at a conference of the Israel Democracy Institute and the paper Makor Rishon, Herzog said "the process of the Disengagement proved that we didn't merit international recognition for a (unilateral - ed.) move that we took, and therefore reality obligates that the infrastructure needs to come from a bilateral agreement of a regional infrastructure existing today, based on the updated Arab peace initiative."

Herzog said that a peace agreement, even if it involves multiple steps or is only partial, is necessary, apparently calling in essence for a peace deal with the Hamas terror organization ruling Gaza that calls for the annihilation of the Jewish people in its charter.

"At the end of the day we need to ask ourselves if we want to live in an Arab-Jewish state or in an pariah state, or to take the needed process," he said, calling to create an Arab state inside Israel to avoid an Arab majority.

"The question is what is the nature of the state that we want," said the Opposition head. "We can debate the pain of the uprooting (of Gush Katif - ed.) and the pain of the shattering of the dreams of three generations of families, but in the end, this is the future of the state."

Herzog said that "the process of the Disengagement was the right process, but we should hold a debate on the perspective of the problems that were in the process itself."

"In the end no one today wants to get up and reestablish Netzarim," claimed Herzog, referring to a Jewish community in Gaza. "I think that shows the lack of longevity and how the idea of settling inside the Gaza Strip was mistaken from the start, despite that those who established most of the communities was the (Labor) movement at whose head I stand, and we express our remorse."

Despite Herzog's assertions, numerous former residents of Gush Katif, who unlike his claims hail from the religious Zionist movement rather than the Labor movement, have stated their earnest desire to return "any day now."

Likewise critics of the Disengagement plan have noted that the presence of the Jewish communities in Gaza was not "mistaken," but rather provided a sort of defense barrier against attacks by Arab terrorists against the rest of the state, an argument proven after all Jews were expelled and Hamas took over, firing rockets at wide regions of Israel.

Herzog concluded: "At the end of the day, even (then-Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon, the leader of the right, understood on the background of the geopolitical situation that things can't continue like this."

Indicating the sort of peace deal Herzog would himself support, he revealed in December 2013 that he wants to divide Jerusalem and make massive land concessions on Judea and Samaria.