Geneva Initiative Annexes
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GI Position Paper: Don't turn Northern Gaza into Southern Lebanon

GI Position Paper: Don't turn Northern Gaza into Southern Lebanon
Date: 15.05.07

Further to the Israeli declarations about the possibility of embarking on a military operation in the Gaza Strip with the aim of ending the launching of Qasam rockets on Israel, Geneva Initiative's stand is as follows:

1. The unilateral nature of the Gaza disengagement was a mistake. However a renewed entrance into Gaza will be an even greater mistake.

2. The necessary change is diplomatic and not military in nature

3. There is a dangerous possibility that Israel will find itself being drawn back to Gaza and to maintaining a "strategic area" under the security pretence. In practice, such an operation could lead to Israeli forces remaining in Gaza for years.

4. Claims made by military officials who determine that Hamas is currently simulating models implemented by Hezbollah and that Gaza is becoming Southern Lebanon should not lead Israel to make the same mistakes that were made in Lebanon since the 1980s.

5. In order to put an end to the launching of Qasam rockets on Israel, a ceasefire including not only Gaza but also the West Bank must be implemented.

In recent days we have been subject to reports professing that Israel is considering a military operation in Gaza with the aim of putting an end to the launching of Qasam rockets on Israel. Such an operation, however, will fail to achieve its goals: in the best case scenario such an operation will cease the launching of the rockets for a limited time only, i.e. until the I.D.F. returns to Israel's border or until new rocket launchers are set up in new locations. The more reasonable scenario is that the Qasam rockets will continue to be launched and that the military operation will not be able to put an end to this. There is also a worst case scenario in which Israel will re-occupy territories in the Gaza Strip and maintain its forces there for a long period of time.

The only solution that can bring an end to acts of terrorism is a diplomatic solution. Tactic operations that will lead to local and tentative security transformations, will not promote the quiet that the residents of Southern Israel deserve. When military operations cease, both sides will agree to implement a ceasefire – it is therefore worthwhile agreeing on such a ceasefire now. The recipe for such a ceasefire is known to all: its expansion so that it not only includes the Gaza Strip but the West Bank as well.

The manner in which the terrorist organizations are currently operating in Gaza - which reminds military experts of similar models implemented by Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon – should not lead Israel to replicate the steps previously taken in dealing with Lebanon. Eighteen years had past until Israel realized the diplomatic and security hazard of maintaining Israeli forces in Southern Lebanon and until Israeli forces withdrew. Israel must refrain from duplicating the same mistake in Gaza.

A poll conducted during March 2007 found that 65% of the Israeli public prefers an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank only following to a negotiations process with the PA, as opposed to 4% of Israelis who prefer another unilateral withdrawal (30% oppose any kind of further withdrawals).

There is no doubt that the Israeli public understands that the unilateral model has failed. However the attempt to compensate for this failure and the terror it has resulted in, by re-occupying territories, is doomed to an even greater failure.