Op-Ed: Why the Gaza Referendum Lost by Morton A. Klein, National President of the ZOA
May 3, 2004

Why did the overwhelming majority of members of Israel’s ruling party vote against unilateral Gaza surrender?

Look at the events of the past decade and it’s easy to understand why and where we should go from here.

Israelis were told that if they surrendered large parts of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza to the Palestinian Arabs, it would bring peace. But they soon learned that giving up land only increases terrorism. Since 1993, Israel has surrendered more than half of Judea and Samaria, and virtually all of Gaza including the areas where 98% of the Palestinian Arabs reside and yet it has been subjected to the worst terrorism in its history.

Israelis were assured that making concessions to the Arabs would lead to international acceptance of Israel. Yet despite massive Israeli territorial concessions since 1993, anti-Israel hatred and anti-Semitism have increased dramatically throughout the world.

Even when Israel undertakes a basic act of self-defense, such as eliminating a terrorist leader such as Hamas chief Abd el-Aziz Rantisi, Israel finds itself condemned. The international community will not even let Israel exercise its right to simple self-defense against mass murderers.

Israelis were told that international financial aid to the Palestinian Authority would help build a moderate, peace-seeking regime. Yet despite the over $1-billion that the U.S. has given, and the additional billions that European Union countries have given, the Palestinian Arabs continue their war to destroy Israel and murder Jews.

Israelis were told that if they gave weapons to the PA police force, the PA police would use them against Arab terrorist groups. Israel gave the weapons. The PA used them against Israelis.

When members of the Likud Party went to the voting booths this week, they rejected a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza —by landslide proportions— because Israel has spent the last ten years making unilateral withdrawals, and received nothing in return except more terrorism. Under these circumstances, a Gaza surrender would mean permitting the creation of a terrorist state next to Israel, and the forcible mass expulsion of more than 8,000 Jewish men, women, and children from their homes simply because they are Jews.

Where do we go from here?

By repudiating the Gaza surrender proposal, the Likud voters have also repudiated the flawed concept at the heart of the Bush administration’s “Road Map” plan: the idea that the Palestinian Arabs should be given a sovereign state next to Israel as quickly as possible, despite their constant terrorism against Israel and failure to fulfill any of their obligations in their previous accords with Israel.

The Bush administration should now recognize that the Road Map, as originally conceived, is unworkable. It cannot, and should not, be imposed upon Israel The time has come for a new Road Map a Road Map to Victory Over Palestinian Arab Terrorism. It should be based on the principles articulated by the Bush administration in its own fight against terrorists:

* The Palestinian Authority is an evil terrorist regime and should be treated as such. As President Bush said to Congress on Sept. 21, 2001: “From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.”

* Israel should use all means at its disposal to defeat the terrorists. Secretary of State Colin Powell has said that the U.S. should use “overwhelming force” when confronting its enemies. And President Bush said on October 7, 2003: “Israel’s got a right to defend herself, Israel must not feel constrained in defending the homeland.”

* The Palestinian Arabs’ culture of teaching and glorifying anti-Jewish hatred and violence must be completely uprooted in a manner comparable to the Allies’ de-Nazification of Germany after World War II. As Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on November 2, 2003: “We are capturing and killing a lot of terrorists, but we also have to think about the number of new ones that are being created … The world needs to think about other things we can do to reduce the number of schools that teach terrorism.”

* Mass expulsion of Jews from Judea, Samaria, and Gaza is morally wrong and impractical. As President Bush acknowledged in his April 16, 2004 press conference, any Israeli-Arab agreement must accept “demographic realities.” That should include accepting the demographic reality that the 200,000 Jewish residents of the territories have as much right to live there as the one million-plus Arabs who live in Israel.

A new Road Map based on these principles would be a significant departure from previous administration policy but it would be perfectly consistent with the policies that the administration has adopted in its own war against terrorism.

Only by adopting such principles, based on the complete defeat of the Palestinian Arab terrorists and the thorough de-Nazification of Palestinian Arab society, will it be possible to advance the chances for a meaningful and durable peace between Israel and the Arabs.

Center for Law & Justice
We work to educate the American public and Congress about legal issues in order to advance the interests of Israel and the Jewish people.
We assist American victims of terrorism in vindicating their rights under the law, and seek to hold terrorists and sponsors of terrorism accountable for their actions.
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We strive to enforce existing law and also to create new law in order to safeguard the rights of the Jewish people in the United States and Israel.