VIDEO: The Gaza Disengagement: 10 Years After

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A look back at the historic decision and its aftermath.

On December 1, 2015 the UCLA Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies hosted a panel of Israeli, Palestinian and American government advisers and diplomats, all intimately involved in the disengagement decision and its implementation.

Co-sponsored by the UCLA Center for Middle East Development


The Israeli disengagement from Gaza (הַהִתְנַתְּקוּת, HaHitnatkut) was the withdrawal of the Israeli army from Gaza, and the dismantling of all Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip in 2005. Four small settlements in the northern West Bank were also evacuated.

The plan for withdrawal was proposed by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a long-time advocate for settlers. He argued that in the absence of a serious Palestinian peace partner and amidst ongoing Palestinian terrorism, Israel needed to take unilateral steps to ensure its own security and improve conditions on the ground. The disengagement plan was approved by the Israeli Knesset in October 2004, and carried out on 15 August 2005. IDF installations and forces were removed and over 9000 Israeli citizens living in 25 settlements were evicted. By 22 September 2005, Israel's withdrawal from the entire Gaza Strip to the 1967 Green Line, and the eviction of the four settlements in the West Bank, was completed.

About the speakers

Dov Weissglas
is a practicing attorney in Israel, a senior partner in Weissglas – Almagor, a Tel Aviv law firm, and presently an international senior consultant for several well known Washington law firms. Weissglas was the Bureau Chief of the Prime Minister of Israel Mr. Ariel Sharon and a Special foreign affairs Advisor to the Prime Minister from May 2002 to June 2006. Weissglas was responsible for the Prime Minister's contact with the White House, State Department and other branches of the U.S. administration, and also with the EU Leadership and heads of the major European countries. As well, he conducted negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Egypt, and was involved on behalf of the State of Israel in the process of drafting the Road Map for Peace; the preparation of the Gaza Strip Disengagement plan; and other major political initiatives.

Brigadier General (Res.) Eival Gilady is Chairman of Western Galilee College and President of Vanadis Ltd. He is also the President of the Israeli-Palestinian Chamber of Commerce, of which he was a co-founder, and founder and CEO of the Portland Trust in Israel, a British foundation established to foster peace and stability in the Middle East (2005-2011). Gilady was appointed Head of Coordination and Strategy at the Office of Prime Minister Sharon in March 2005, and from 2001 to 2004 he served as Head of the Israel Defense Force’s Strategic Planning Division. His responsibility in this position encompassed all areas of politico-military policy recommendations, including the security aspects of the peace process and peace talks, and in this role he was responsible for developing the Gaza Disengagement Plan. A Brigadier General in the IDF, Gilady had a distinguished military career spanning three decades - commanding field units and serving for ten years on the General Staff. Gilady holds a BA and MA degree from Haifa University, and additional MA degrees from National Defense University and George Washington University, in the areas of Resources Management, Policy Analysis, National Security Strategy, and Public Finance. From 1999 to 2001 he was a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.

Ghaith al-Omari is a senior fellow at The Washington Institute and former executive director of the American Task Force on Palestine. Prior to that, he served in various positions within the Palestinian Authority, including Director of the International Relations Department in the Office of the Palestinian President, and advisor to former Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. In these capacities, he provided advice on foreign policy -- especially vis-à-vis the United States and Israel -- and security. He has extensive experience in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, having been an advisor to the Palestinian negotiating team throughout the permanent status negotiations (1999–2001). In that capacity, he participated in various negotiating rounds, most notably the Camp David summit and the Taba talks. After the breakdown of the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, he was the lead Palestinian drafter of the Geneva Initiative, an unofficial model peace agreement negotiated between leading Palestinian and Israeli public figures. Mr. al-Omari is a lawyer by training and a graduate of Georgetown and Oxford universities. Prior to his involvement in the Middle East peace process, he taught international law in Jordan and was active in human rights advocacy.

Robert M. Danin is senior fellow for Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is also a senior fellow at the Belfer Center’s Middle East Initiative at Harvard University’s Kennedy School. Prior to joining CFR, he headed the Jerusalem mission of the Quartet representative, Tony Blair, from April 2008 until August 2010. A former career State Department official with over twenty years of Middle East experience, Dr. Danin previously served as deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs with responsibilities for Israeli-Palestinian issues and Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt. He also served at the National Security Council for over three years, first as director for Israeli-Palestinian affairs and the Levant and then as acting senior director for Near East and North African affairs. A recipient of the State Department's Superior Honor Award, Dr. Danin served as a Middle East and Gulf specialist on the Secretary of State's Policy Planning Staff, and as a State Department senior Middle East political and military analyst. Prior to joining the State Department, he worked as a Jerusalem-based journalist covering Israeli and Palestinian politics. He has served as a thought leader for the World Economic Forum since 2012.

About the moderator

Steven Spiegel is the Director of the Center for Middle East Development and Professor of Political Science at UCLA. Through the innovative and informal negotiation techniques he has developed, Dr. Spiegel helps produce cutting edge ideas for promoting Middle East regional security and cooperation. Professor Spiegel is co-author of The Peace Puzzle: America's Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace from 1989-2011, published in early 2013 by Cornell University Press. He is also co-author of a major international relations textbook, World Politics in a New Era, now published in sixth edition from Oxford University Press. Steven Spiegel is at work on a book on American-Israeli relations and is conducting a study of the role of high technology innovation by small states on the future of great powers. He is the editor-in-chief of the Routledge UCLA Center for Middle East Development series on Middle East security and cooperation, and authored among other writings, The Other Arab-Israeli Conflict: Making America's Middle East Policy, from Truman to Reagan, published by the University of Chicago press.