Israel’s former prime minister Ariel Sharon could never bring himself to sit across from an equal Palestinian partner. As a result, Israel lost an opportunity to gain, in return for giving back Gaza, serious changes in the Palestinians’ approach to their struggle. It turned out that Sharon gave Gaza not to the Palestinian people but to Hamas. History will judge this as a free favor to Arab radicalism.
Israel’s unilateral pullout from Gaza was judged by the Palestinians and much of the Arab world as an Israeli acknowledgment that it had lost control of Gaza to Hamas, and therefore it was seen as a victory for suicide terrorism. It was also a stunning rebuke of Palestinian moderates, since no other Palestinian leader has been as moderate as Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, and he was ignored by the Israelis in the Gaza pullout.