Opposition in Israel to disengagement
Published: 10 August 2005
Briefing Number 153
Briefing concisely outlines the arguments for and against
Israel’s “disengagement” from the Gaza
Strip and the northern West Bank. Opponents of disengagement,
campaigning under the colour orange, have undertaken a massive
campaign to prevent disengagement, but they have not stopped
the Israeli government from proceeding.
Large sections of Israeli society are now experiencing
the anguish of sacrificing some long-held beliefs.
Following disengagement it will be time for the Palestinians
to confront some painful choices of their own.
A time of intense emotion and political controversy
The build-up to disengagement has been a time of intense emotion
and political controversy in Israel.
Large sections of Israeli society passionately feel that disengagement
is wrong and dangerous for Israel; but the Israeli government
is determined to go ahead. It maintains that disengagement is
essential, and expresses the democratic will of the Israeli
The stand-off at Kfar Maimon – dignity and anguish
The clash of outlooks was epitomised in protests which took
place in the small Israeli village of Kfar Maimon, just outside
the Gaza strip, in late July.
Thousands of protesters gathered to march on the Gaza strip
settlement of Gush Katif, and express solidarity with the residents
there. Over 10,000 men, women, teenagers, children… whole
families gathered for those three days, in searing heat.
Facing them were 20,000 Israeli soldiers and police, forming
a massive human wall to prevent the protesters from getting
through. The soldiers were unarmed. Many linked arms.
For three days, the stand-off continued. The protesters prayed,
held rallies and study meetings, and offered food and drink
to the soldiers (usually rebuffed by the soldiers, on army orders).
Protesters cried. And facing them, soldiers and police cried
too. And after three days, the disengagement protesters went
home, exhausted and emotionally shattered. And the police and
army regrouped to block the next, expected wave of protests.
There was no violence over those three days at Kfar Maimon.
Arguments in favour of disengagement
Israel’s disengagement plan was formulated by Ariel Sharon
at the end of 2003 (its precise origin remains a subject of
controversy). The plan evolved in 2004, and is being implemented
on the ground in 2005.
Israeli government representatives argue that disengagement
is in Israel’s interests for the following reasons:-