Israel is not ruling out further unilateral moves if agreements fail to be reached, an Israeli cabinet minister implied.
Israel’s Minister of Environment Protection Gideon Ezra said the ideal situation was for Israel to reach agreements with its enemies.
“But when we see there is no chance and it’s good for us to do things ourselves, we will do it ourselves,” he told The Media Line.
Ezra is a member of the centrist Qadima party and a former deputy head of the Shin bet, Israel’s domestic security service.
The policy of withdrawing from territories unilaterally has come under criticism over the past two years.
Israel unilaterally evacuated Jewish communities in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2005, but missile attacks from Gaza onto Israeli towns have since intensified.
Also, the prudence of Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon in the year 2000 was questioned after the Second Lebanon War broke out between Israel and Hizbullah last summer and Israel’s northern towns came under heavy fire from Hizbullah’s Katyusha rockets.
A unilateral withdrawal from considerable parts of the West Bank, a plan brought up by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ahead of the elections in 2006, was scrapped shortly after the war in Lebanon.
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“When we left Gaza it was a wonderful opportunity for the Palestinians to begin a new era to live,” Ezra said.
He said if terrorism would stop, Israel would let Palestinians enter its territory for work and there would be no reason to have roadblocks.
Jibril Rajoub, a former National Security Adviser to the Palestinian Authority, said Israel was wrong to act unilaterally and “throw the keys of Gaza onto the street,” rather than handing them over to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud ‘Abbas.
Disengagement between the Palestinian and the Israelis is the only solution, but “even if you want to divorce your wife you have to go to the court,” he said.
“Unilateral disengagement will never ensure the Israelis anything,” Rajoub added.
If Olmert wants Mahmoud ‘Abbas to take steps on the ground, he should deal with him as a partner, he said.
Ezra and Rajoub were addressing a mixed Israeli and Palestinian audience during a meeting organized by IPCRI..