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Netanyahu calls Gaza evacuation a ‘mistake’

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel "will not repeat this mistake," during remarks about the Gaza disengagement.

"What was done cannot be undone, Netanyahu said at the start of Sunday’s weekly Cabinet meeting.  "We can only conduct genuine introspection and say that the unilateral evacuation from the Gaza Strip brought neither peace nor security.

"To my regret, the opposite occurred and we know that Gaza became a Hamas base under Iranian control from which thousands of missiles have been fired, including in the last campaign. In short, this did not bring peace."

Netanyahu said the government is committed to "the rehabilitation of our brothers," the Gush Katif evacuees, calling their plight a "tragedy."

"Tomorrow, I will tour the evacuees’ communities.  e must take greater action and soon in order to complete dealing with our brothers whose lives were destroyed and we, as the government, governments of Israel, promised to deal with them and rehabilitate the ruins of their lives," he said. "This means financial and social rehabilitation, rehabilitation in every sense of the word, but now and not later."

Netanyahu, who spoke before a scheduled special Cabinet session marking four years since Israel left Gaza, said Israel would handle things differently in its quest for peace.

"We want multilateral agreements based on two basic components: One, the genuine recognition of the State of Israel, and two, of course, security arrangements — the honoring and enforcement of which will be assured. Regarding the unilateral evacuation from Gaza, these two elements were lacking.

"We will see to it that if there is a turn towards peace by the more moderate Palestinians, we will insist on the following components: Recognition and genuine demilitarization will find expression in, and be integral parts of, the peace arrangements."

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