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Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip did not garner the expected international sympathy, a new study found.

According to the study by two political and communications researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel’s unilateral 2005 removal of troops and settlers from Gaza and four West Bank communities had the effect of presenting Israel in a more negative light in the Western media.

The researchers reached their conclusion after trolling through thousands of American and British press reports and government statements.

“We found that one of the main reasons for this phenomenon is that Israel continues to be viewed by the world as a conquering state,” said Tamir Sheafer, one of the study’s authors. “We also found that the demands from Israel to territorial concessions in the territories not only were not lessened following the disengagement but actually became stronger.”

Then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon cast the Gaza withdrawal as a stopgap measure in the face of a Palestinian Authority that was unwilling or unable to stop terror.

Sharon also said the pullout “improves our international standing and promotes the chance of peace in our region.”

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