MK on disengagement anniversary: One day I’ll return to my Gaza home

Gush Katif evacuation is ongoing national tragedy, says Edelstein; Ariel: MKs who voted for move should apologize to Kalfa.

July 3, 2013 02:18
3 minute read.
COALITION CHAIRMAN Yariv Levin and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein visit a new exhibition

levin, edelstein visit gush katif exhibit 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

The Gaza disengagement was a national tragedy, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said Tuesday at a special Knesset meeting marking eight years since the events.

“My heart still aches when I remember Gush Katif [Jewish settlements in Gaza] and all of its men, women, youth, children. They loved life, their synagogues were full, as were their schools and greenhouses,” said Edelstein, who opposed the disengagement as a Likud MK at the time.

“A whole world was destroyed before our eyes, and we looked on with disbelief,” he added. “I honestly believe this is a national tragedy that has yet to come to its end.”

MK Zvulun Kalfa (Bayit Yehudi), who was evacuated from the Gaza settlement Atzmona, was brought to tears during the Knesset discussion.

“It’s not easy for me to stand here today, where years ago people voted to authorize the expulsion of my family and friends from Gush Katif and northern Samaria, but I am here out of responsibility and partnership with my friends from the Gush,” Kalfa explained.

“I have no doubt that I am in the Knesset as a representative of Gush Katif and I will act to strengthen settlements throughout Israel and fight any plan to evacuate Jews from their homes.”

Kalfa pointed out that some of the goals of the disengagement were to bring security, reduce friction with the population of Gaza and invalidate claims that Israel is responsible for the Palestinians in Gaza.

“The disengagement was a strategic error of the first degree, which led to Hamas’s victory and encouraged terror. It only fed the Palestinian’s fight,” he stated.

Kalfa added that he has “no doubt we will return. It will take time, but we’ll be back [in Gush Katif].”

“With God’s help we will remember and return,” said Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel, who wears an orange bracelet every day to remember the disengagement.

“We’re sick of telling everyone who voted for the [disengagement] plan ‘I told you so.’ Many people voted in favor. What didn’t you understand? That if we leave, there would be rockets in Tel Aviv?” The Bayit Yehudi minister criticized MKs who voted for the disengagement, saying that none of them are willing to admit their mistake.

“Some didn’t learn and are trying to sell us the delusion of two states for two nations,” Ariel added. “Our No. 1 citizen [President Shimon Peres] says that one state between the Jordan River and the sea is a fantasy, but [I say] two states for two nations is the greatest fairy tale ever told.”

Coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu) said that he initiated the Knesset discussion of the disengagement because it was not only an injustice and a security risk, it was a moral atrocity.

“This cannot become a distant memory. We must remember it and check ourselves when we talk about peace, about concessions and about evacuations,” he stated.

Levin criticized High Court judges, saying they use “phony, lying, post-Zionist talk of human rights” to remove people from their homes without care for their rights.

“Suddenly, the High Court’s principles disappeared, because rights weren’t important, rather, who was asking for [the] rights mattered,” he said.

Labor MK Eitan Cabel, who voted for the disengagement, said the government’s treatment of Gaza evacuees was “unacceptable” and called for the government not to undertake any more unilateral withdrawals.

Yesh Atid faction leader Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid) said the disengagement was positive because it removed Israelis from occupied, violent land.

“The decision to disengage was positive, but it happened without properly educating the public,” Shelah stated. “Our democratic power led the government to act on its plan and prove that a leader has the power to make decisions.”

MK Taleb Abu Arar (UALTa’al) said that “whoever wants peace must stop building settlements,” and expressed concern that, like the evacuees from Gush Katif, Beduin removed from their homes as a result of the Prawer Plan will not be properly compensated.

Earlier Tuesday, Edelstein, Levin and Bayit Yehudi MKs Orit Struck and Mordechai Yogev visited a new photo exhibit installed in one of the Knesset’s halls.

The exhibit features photos of Gush Katif before and during the disengagement, as well as the protests against the move.

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