Published 1:25 pm Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Gaza Strip pull out a positive step
The Middle East has been a seemingly never-ending cycle of violence ever since the dawn of time. Biblical stories tell the tale of numerous clashes between the Hebrews and the surrounding populations of what would become Israel; and the continued struggles after the establishment of the Israeli Kingdom.
After the Roman armies destroyed Jerusalem in A.D. 70, many of the Jews still there scattered across the world in what has been called the "Diaspora".
After centuries of populating the globe, many Jews began to wish for their own homeland; one that their ancestors had abandoned long ago.
Following the Holocaust, sympathy for Jews who had survived the ordeal helped the newly-formed United Nations re-establish the nation of Israel in 1948.
The only problem was that the area hadn't gone unoccupied in the Jews' absence.
Many Arab Muslims had populated the area in the time following the establishment of Islam in A.D. 700. Many of these same settlers were incensed to have areas they had occupied for centuries simply given to the Israelis, as were many in other Arab nations.
Throughout the first 35 years or so of its existence, Israel found itself at war with its neighbors every five years or so. After eventually making peace with those nations, only one hurdle remained, making peace with the Palestinians.
That has not proven itself to be an easy task, as for the last five years the Palestinians have been waging a largely-unsuccessful uprising against the Israeli Army. After a tentative peace agreement was reached early this year, one agreement was that the Israelis would pull out of the Gaza Strip, an area originally designated a Palestinian territory but taken by the Israelis in the Six Day War in 1967.
This week the pull-out of Jewish settlers began in that region, a pull-out that is, not surprisingly, quite unpopular. Settlers had until Wednesday to vacate peacefully, before the army would receive orders to vacate for them.
Several hundred Jewish settlers seem hell-bent on resisting, which is understandable. But this pull-out could be an important step to peace between the two warring factions, and one that could eventually lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state, something the Palestinians have maintained they want.
Autonomy is slowly but surely being granted to the Palestinians, and with the Israelis beginning to make concessions, it is now their turn to hold up their end of the bargain. Whether they like it or not, the Israelis are there to stay. Now is the time to find out if the two sides can peacefully co-exist.
We hope both sides can remain reasonable as they continue to work towards peace.