Monday will mark the third anniversary of the forcible expulsion of the Jews of Gaza and northern Samaria from their homes. Those expulsions were followed weeks later by the withdrawal of IDF personnel from the Gaza Strip.
Unlike the Rabin-Peres government's decision to embark on the Oslo peace process with the PLO in 1993, Ariel Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza did not take years to be discredited. It took moments.
As the last IDF personnel left Gaza, the Palestinians began torching the synagogues Israel abandoned. Within minutes of Israel's withdrawal from Gaza's border with Egypt, the Palestinians blew up the border wall. They immediately began transferring unprecedented quantities of heavy weaponry into Gaza - a practice that has continued to this day.
Another important distinction between the Oslo policy and the withdrawal policy is that at least Oslo asked the Palestinians to give Israel something in exchange for the land, money, arms and political legitimacy Israel lavished on them. As events would show, Israel asked the Palestinians for too little. But at least Israel asked them for something. The withdrawal policy, in contrast, demanded nothing from the Palestinians. It was simply an unconditional surrender of land. As a result, Hamas -- the terror group which has distinguished itself from Fatah by refusing to even pay lip service to peace -- was the chief beneficiary of Israel's retreat.
The first harbingers of Hamas's ascendance to power came the day after Israel completed its withdrawal. Tens of thousands of armed Hamas terrorists, clad in spanking new uniforms, goose-stepped through the streets of Gaza in their victory parade. The then-ruling Fatah government's own parade was dingy and poorly attended in comparison.
Hamas's pageantry was followed with the jihadist group's decisive electoral victory over Fatah in January 2006. This led to the further weakening of Fatah in March 2007 with the signing of the Mecca accord that rendered Fatah a junior member of Hamas's ruling coalition. The Mecca accord also signaled a shift in the Arab world's sympathies from Fatah to Hamas. That agreement then paved the way for Hamas's violent ouster of Fatah forces from Gaza in June 2007 and its rising challenge to Fatah's leadership in Judea and Samaria.
It should be pointed out that Hamas's victory over Fatah was not a victory of extremists over moderates in any real sense of the terms. Both Hamas and Fatah share the aim of destroying Israel. This was made clear most recently in the lead-up to the Annapolis conference last November. As US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced the coming of peace, Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas refused to recognize Israel's right to exist.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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