In several recent occasions, (Opposition Chairman) Benjamin Netanyahu fiercely slammed the unilateral measures method. Demagoguery aside, this man voted in favor on the unilateral Gaza pullout four times, including a tedious attempt at a Knesset-hall-putsch which ended with him caving in and voting, yet again, yea.
What's in a unilateral measure? Unilateral measures are needed when there is no peace partner to speak of, whether due to the unwillingness or inability of the other side, in which case it doesn't really matter anyway.
If despite the lack of a negotiations partner we still want to improve our situation, there is no other choice but to do it for ourselves – that is the basis for unilateral measures.
Unilateral measures do not have to spell out a withdrawal on our side. The building of the separation fences, for example, was a unilateral measure. In spite of the Palestinians' objections, the fence is a fact – a fact which prevents many terror acts. Operation Defensive Shield was also a unilateral measure – we had no one to talk to amongst the Palestinians but we needed to achieve a clam – hence this unilateral, successful operation.
Doing what needs to be done
The Gaza pullout is another good example: It was obvious we had no one to strike a peace deal with, not any deal which we might profit from in any way; and it was clear then – as it is now – that should we have been able to reach any kind of agreement, it would have been worthless and the Palestinians would have breached it almost immediately; and still the vast majority of the public and the Knesset members did not want to stay in Gaza.
The public was no longer willing to put up with the constant losses, the blood price, the growing death toll of soldiers and civilian lives. So what were we supposed to do? Wait? For what?
The rocket fire on Sderot began long before the Gaza pullout; but in all the meetings that preceded the pullout – when options of warning the residents, firing at the artillery sources and if all else fails, targeting neighborhoods used as firing hubs, were being explored – the legal advisors informed the powers that be that as long as we were in the Gaza Strip, we will not be able to declare it a hostile entity.
The Gaza pullout did more than just guarantee Israel the United States' support and congressional affirmation of our negation of any right Palestinian refugees might have to return to Israel, or returning to the 1967 borders. The Gaza pullout freed us form any liability regarding the Strip; freed us to do what needs to be done.
But then, unfortunately, the conductor of what was a fine-tuned, complex musical composition, was replaced by an amateur tambourine player, who lacks both the understanding and the ability to keep doing what needs to be done. These faults make the accomplishments of the Gaza pullout fade away and make the validity of unilateral measures questionable; but nevertheless, with the absence of a Palestinian peace partner a unilateral measure seems like the only way to improve our standing.
Netanyahu needs to search the dark corners of his memory and recall the Wye agreement, which he and (former Palestinian President) Yasser Arafat signed, and the Hebron Agreement – both bilateral agreements if ever we saw one. The separation fence is tried and true – it prevents terror. Netanyahu's Wye and Hebron agreements have long been flushed down Hebron's sewers.