NEW YORK- The Israeli Knesset’s vote in favor of unilateral Gaza retreat not only rewards and appeases terrorists, but the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza will make it much easier for terrorists to set up bomb factories and bring weapons into Gaza, including even more dangerous and accurate missiles that will threaten major cities within Israel. And just as the Knesset’s vote in favor of the Oslo accords later turned out to be a tragic error, so too will its vote in favor of unilateral retreat from Gaza, and the forcible transfer of 8300 Jews from that area, soon prove to have been a terrible mistake.
Morton A. Klein, National President of the Zionist Organization of America said in a statement today:
“Today, it is widely acknowledged that the Oslo accords were a complete failure because the Palestinian Arabs are not yet sincerely prepared to live in peace with Israel. It is clear that the Knesset’s vote in favor of the Oslo accords was a tragic error. Its vote in favor of unilateral retreat from Gaza will soon be proven to have been a similarly terrible mistake.
“Rewarding terrorists is wrong. Unilaterally retreating from Gaza, in the midst of a Palestinian Arab terrorist war against Israel, is a huge reward for the terrorists. This undermines the American and Israeli war against terrorism, by sending a message to terrorists that their violence will result in territorial and other concessions. Making concessions in the midst of a war — whether a traditional war or a terrorist war — is a grave mistake.”
“Throwing Jews out of their homes is wrong. The 8300 Jewish residents of Gaza have as much legal, moral, and historical right to live there as do the Arabs. If Israel was planning to transfer Arabs out of Gaza, the international community would be outraged. Why is the transfer of Jews permissible?”
The ZOA president pointed out:
* It is only because of Islamic terrorism that Israel is preparing to throw Jews out of their homes and give more land to Hamas and the terrorist Palestinian Authority regime. If there were no terrorism, Israel would not be retreating. The Arabs correctly perceive the prospect of a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza as a victory and will inspire them to murder even more Jews in the belief that terrorism will lead to even more Israeli concessions. Mohammed Dahlan, former Minister of Security for the Palestinian Authority, said: “The Israeli withdrawal is a victory for us and we must celebrate it. Hezbollah turned Israel’s retreat from Lebanon into victory. The withdrawal of the Israeli Army from the Gaza Strip is one of the most important achievements of the intifada.” (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 22, 2004)
* Jaffee Center (Tel Aviv U.): There is no demographic benefit from leaving Gaza. Israel, under Yitzhak Rabin, already withdrew about 80% from Gaza in 1994. In the remaining 20%, there are over 8,300 Jewish residents and about 2,000 Arab residents. An Israeli withdrawal from Gaza will not affect any demographic concerns. Prof. Shai Feldman of Tel Aviv University’s Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, said in his speech at the AIPAC Policy Conference this spring that “there is no demographic issue involved in leaving Gaza.”
* A national referendum is necessary, as cabinet ministers are demanding: The ZOA agrees with those members of the Israeli cabinet who have said they will resign within two weeks unless the prime minister agrees to hold a national referendum on the Gaza retreat plan. The Gaza plan dramatically contradicts the platform on which Ariel Sharon was overwhelmingly elected prime minister — during the last election campaign in Israel, Labor Party candidate Amram Mitzna urged unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and Sharon opposed it. He was elected on the basis of his opposition to unilateral withdrawal; Israel’s voters should have the right to say if they, like Sharon, have changed their minds.
* Some prominent members of the House and Senate have even said privately that they cannot understand how Israel could make major concessions to the enemy in the midst of a terrorist war. In addition, U.S. Representative Dan Burton (R-Indiana), a leading member of the House International Relations Committee, recently said in a newspaper interview: “I don’t think that acquiescing to Hamas, Hezbollah and Palestinian demands, giving up Gaza and the homes that are over there, is the proper approach. It seems to me that if you start taking steps to appease the enemy, you give them a green light to put more pressure on you and until there is an ironclad guarantee for the security of Israel, there should be no steps to appease the Palestinians.”
The world-renowned professor of History and Classics, and former dean of Yale College, Dr. Donald Kagan, wrote in his book, On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace, that after studying international conflicts and peace agreements that took place over the past 3,000 years, he concluded that appeasement has always failed.