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On September 12, 2005, the last Israeli soldier left the Gaza Strip, completing the disengagement plan and uprooting 21 flourishing, generations-old Israeli communities from the Gaza Strip and four from the northern region of the West Bank.

Israel has been dedicated to peace with its Arab neighbors from the day it declared its statehood. In 2000, then-Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Barak met with Yasser Arafat, the late chairman of the Palestinian Authority, at Camp David. Barak offered the Palestinians nearly all of their territorial demands to make way for a state of their own.

Barak?s offer meant the dismantling of thousands of Israeli homes in the hope of finally achieving peace between Palestinians and Israelis. Arafat?s response was neither to refuse nor to make a counter-offer, but simply to leave the negotiation table and start a war.

Since 2000, the Palestinians have waged war against [Israelis], claiming the lives of innocent men, women, and children. In order to ensure the security of Israel?s citizens, in December 2003 Sharon decided to try a different approach. Sharon chose to pull out of the Gaza Strip and redraw Israel?s borders.

Israel won control over the Gaza Strip in the Six-Day War of 1967 in one of the many defensive wars Israel has fought with its Arab neighbors simply over its right to exist. The move to disengage from Gaza resulted in the destruction of hundreds of homes of law-abiding Israeli citizens. Nevertheless, a number of objectives were behind the decision to withdraw from Gaza.

First, Israeli lives in Gaza would hopefully no longer be endangered by Palestinian terrorists, consequently eliminating the need for Israeli soldiers? protecting these very lives. Secondly, the Palestinians would be given complete autonomy within their newly acquired territory, thereby freeing Israel from accusations of illegal occupation. Finally, the PA and its new chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, would have the opportunity to prove their declarations regarding a Palestinian desire for peace.

Unfortunately, since Israel?s departure from the Gaza Strip, history has only repeated itself. Palestinian self-rule has led to terrorism and the murder of countless Israeli citizens.

A week and a half into complete Palestinian self-rule within all of Gaza, Palestinian terrorists shot over 40 Kassam rockets into residential neighborhoods in Israel. Additionally, since Israel relinquished control of the Gaza Strip border with Egypt, Palestinians have been illegally smuggling tons of weapons into Gaza.

Israel recently made a number of other humanitarian gestures toward the Palestinians, including the removal of several roadblocks, with the intent of easing their day-to-day lives. The Palestinians have returned these positive steps with the exploitation of Israel?s good will in the worst possible way.

Palestinian terrorists have continued their nonsensical killings of Israelis. Over the past month, there has been a kidnapping and murder, near fatal stabbings of two men, and multiple terrorist shootings in attempts to murder Israelis. On October 16, three Israelis were murdered and seven injured in a drive-by terrorist shooting at a bus stop and another shooting inside a Jewish community in the West Bank.

One of the hopes of the disengagement plan was that it would finally bring the Middle East a step closer to peace, a peace that has thus far eluded the region. Unfortunately, reality has been far from this hope.

The Palestinians view Israel?s withdrawal from Gaza as a victory for terrorism, and therefore Palestinian terrorists continue to spill the blood of innocent Israelis. When Israel takes measures to defend the lives of its citizens the Palestinians claim that the ?occupation? continues, despite the many measures Israel has taken to aid them in the creation of a Palestinian state. The PA has announced it has no intention of disarming terrorist organizations, including Hamas.

The responsibility of stopping the terrorism imposed on Israel is in the hands of the Palestinian leadership. Only when hateful rhetoric and violence are curbed can negotiations of peace become realistic. The question is not whether Israel wants peace. The question is, why do the Palestinians continue with their regime of terror?