Jason Greenblatt, President Trump’s special envoy for international negotiations, schooled the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday regarding the obvious cause of Palestinian suffering in Gaza. He said that the Security Council needs “to admit that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are the primary barrier to the dreams of those residents of Gaza who want to live in peace, raise their families and find meaningful work.” Mr. Greenblatt condemned both terrorist organizations for continuing “to target Israeli hospitals and schools” and using Palestinian civilians, including children, as human shields. He asked, “When will the Security Council say this out loud? When will we clearly reject this terrorism?”
In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza and four northern West Bank settlements. Around 8,500 Jewish settlers were uprooted. Israel Defense Forces installations and troops were removed. Israel’s disengagement cost nearly $3 billion. “Some 3,000 homes were razed altogether, according to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Haaretz reported. Israel left behind greenhouses and infrastructure including pipes and roads. “The disengagement decision holds hope for a better future; it transfers responsibility for the Strip to the Palestinians, who will be in charge of their destiny,” then Chief of Staff Dan Halutz said at the time. “Their true test will be to prevent terror.”
Dr. Mohammed Samhouri, a Palestinian economist and academic who had served as a senior economic adviser to the Palestinian Authority, has written about what could have been if the Palestinians had followed a constructive path. Instead, especially after Hamas took over full control of Gaza in 2007, Gaza was turned into a launching pad for terrorist rocket attacks. Dr. Samhouri wrote that he “was a member of a hopeful group of technocrats who developed a clear roadmap for Gaza after Israel unilateral disengagement in 2005, and then watched as that plan collapsed.” After Hamas’s “violent takeover of the entire Gaza Strip,” he added, “it was all downhill from there for Gaza.”
Israel did not initiate the violence wracking the Gaza region since Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. Israel only responded in self-defense to the escalating barrage of rockets and mortar fire, principally aimed by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists at Israeli civilian population centers. Israel also tightened security at border crossings and at sea to prevent the smuggling of arms into Gaza. The Palestinian terrorists brought devastation upon the residents of Gaza by their own aggressive acts, resulting in measures that Israel had to take to protect its own citizens.
The latest round of violence involving Gaza earlier this month followed this same pattern. Lebanese journalist Nadim Koteich placed the blame where it belonged. “The peddling of the blood of the people of Gaza must stop. This battle was started by the Islamic Jihad, not by Israel,” he said during an interview posted by MEMRI. “[Israel] was forced into this battle, in which it had no interest. Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005. The Palestinians should have turned the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza into an opportunity for a national Palestinian compromise. Instead, Hamas opted for a coup in 2007 and for a civil war…Hamas and The Islamic Jihad have thwarted all opportunities for peace, and they have ended up in a prison called Gaza.”
Mr. Greenblatt also used his remarks to the Security Council on Wednesday to criticize the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) as a failed “business model” and a mere “Band-Aid.” He said “what we do know is that it is time to move past Band-Aid solutions. This conflict is sad and tragic and complex, but we must stop pretending that UNRWA and United Nations resolutions will somehow resolve the conflict.”