Transcript: Withdrawing From Gaza

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," August 15, 2005, that was edited for clarity.

BRENDA BUTTNER, GUEST HOST: Will the pain felt by [Gaza resident] Anita Tucker make [Israel] safer? Let’s ask Ambassador Dan Gillerman, he’s the permanent representative of Israel to the United Nations.

Ambassador, thanks so much for joining us.


BUTTNER: What do you have to say to Anita?

GILLERMAN: Well, first of all, I have to say that I have a lot of empathy and sympathy and admiration for Anita. Anita, and many of her colleagues are good people. They came to where they are now wanting to make a life for themselves and succeeded. Some of them have become successful farmers. Some of them, like Anita, have had children and grandchildren born there. Some of them have even had children, grandchildren buried there, as a result of terrorist actions.

But, Anita, who I believe came from the United States, knows what democracy is. Israel is first and foremost a democratic country. The Israeli government, the Israeli prime minister, the Israeli parliament, have decided with a very large, substantial majority that the best thing for Israel is to leave Gaza. It doesn’t make any sense for Anita and all the other wonderful people who are there, 9,000 of them, to be there surrounded by a million-and-a-half Palestinians.

BUTTNER: Well, is that a surrender then? Have the Palestinians won? That’s the way that they’re portraying it, many in Hamas say that.

GILLERMAN: Well, I’m sorry the way the Palestinians are portraying it because that in itself is very counterproductive and it proves yet again that the Palestinians may — as they usually have, never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. This is not a surrender. Israel is doing this out of strength, just the way we withdrew from Lebanon out of strength and out of choice. Just as we made peace with Egypt out of strength and out of choice, Israel believes it has nothing to do in Gaza.

There’s no reason for a pocket of 9,000 people, however hard-working and wonderful they are, to be surrounded by a million-and-a-half Palestinians. We have nothing to do there, these are.

BUTTNER: But they’re willing to be there. They have put their lives on the line and they are saying — I mean, you talk about this being a democracy. They say we want to stay there, that this is a symbol to Israel that we can maintain these occupied lands.

GILLERMAN: Yes, but we have to understand something. These people are there, guarded by about 30,000 Israeli troops. If the troops weren’t there, these people wouldn’t have a chance in hell of surviving in that very, very ugly, cruel and cynical neighborhood.

And the question is whether Israel, deciding as a democratic society with a watershed, historic, bold, courageous decision by Prime Minister Sharon that this is the right thing to do, that this will change the rules of the game.

BUTTNER: Well, there have been many though who disagree. Anita, for example, had voted for the prime minister. She says she would not ever vote him in. And what about Netanyahu who says this is not the way to go and then stepped down.

GILLERMAN: Well, you know, I truly feel that Ariel Sharon, who is actually the person who is more responsible than any other Israeli leader for putting these people there, the person who has fought in seven Israeli wars, led Israel to incredible victories against all odds.

BUTTNER: He’s seen as quite a hawk.

GILLERMAN: With all due modesty, needs patriotism lessons from a lady like Anita or even from Benjamin Netanyahu. Ariel Sharon has proved that he can fight for this country and win wars when he needs to, and he now is trying to win the most difficult, the most courageous war maybe that he has ever fought, and that is the war for peace.

He believes that once Israel is out of Gaza, there will be a totally new ballgame. Israel’s security will be improved, and there will be conditions which will enable us and the Palestinians, if the Palestinians don’t miss this chance, and if they act against terror, we can then sit down, negotiate and back on the road map and create a new Middle East and a new neighborhood where Anita and all her friends can live in peace and security in recognized borders in Israel.

BUTTNER: Well, sir, thank you very much. We will pray for that peace.

GILLERMAN: Thank you very much, we need your prayers.

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