Volume XLIV – Number 2

Dr. Nitza Nachmias

Abstract: In August of 2005, Israel pulled out of Gaza and dismantled all civilian settlements and military border installments. The operation that ended Israel’s occupation was believed to advance the peace process. Nonetheless, the disengagement operation has proven only to be a pilot project for the future dismantling of settlements, since it is clear that a final peace agreement will require the dismantling of many Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The Disengagement failed on both counts. First, the Israeli settlers never accepted the government’s financial and relocation arrangements. Many remain unemployed and unsettled. On the Palestinian front, Hamas continued its daily rocket attacks and fired nearly 3,000 rockets and mortar bombs in 2008 alone. On January 3, 2009 the Israeli military moved into Gaza and launched “Operation Cast Lead” that was aimed to stop Hamas daily shelling of Israeli Southern Cities. This situation raises many questions: Why did the Israel government fail to mobilize the support of the settlers in the operation? Why are many settlers still living in temporary housing and remain unemployed? What lessons can be drawn for the future dismantling of settlements? Why didn’t the Israeli-Palestinian political and strategic relations improve? Indeed, why did everything go wrong? The answers to these questions reveal that (a) the Disengagement plan was based on misperceptions and wishful thinking; (b) the severe psychological, social and economic consequences that followed the forced evacuation were either underestimated or ignored; and (c) the Israeli pullout strengthened Hamas, which resulted in a deterioration of the economic and political conditions in Gaza. Ultimately, the peace process suffered a major setback.

Key Words: Disengagement, West Bank-Gaza, Resettlement, Forced evacuation, Roadmap For Peace, Quartet, Likud Party, Knesset, SELA (Disengagement Authority), Gush Katif, Palestinian Authority, Hamas.

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