In August 2005, Israel withdrew its settlements—some 8,000 Jews—from Gaza. In Israel's Unilateralism, award-winning journalist Robert Zelnick examines Israel's disengagement from Gaza and what it might lead to in the future. He offers a detailed account of the actual pullout, explains the evolution of the thought behind the policy, and analyzes the Palestinian response from both moderates and Hamas. Zelnick looks at the factors that led to the metamorphosis of Ariel Sharon—the indispensable party to this policy—revealing how demographics, the specter of Road Map negotiations, and Sharon's search for a legacy all played a part in his about-face and weighs the impact of the loss of Sharon.
The author describes the exceptionally active and important period of politics and diplomacy that resulted from the Gaza pullout, including the collapse of Abu Mazen's efforts to placate Hamas and Sharon's push to form the new centrist Kadima Party. He details the roles of Hamas and the Israeli settlers, showing how each side represented the fundamental grievances of this ongoing conflict And he considers where the disengagement might go in the future under given conditions, underscoring the politically realist-minded assumptions that continue to drive the policy forward.