It is obvious now that the Gaza disengagement was a strategic disaster for Israel, but at the time Ariel Sharon considered it a diplomatic triumph, since he obtained a formal American commitment regarding the post-disengagement era in a presidential letter dated April 14, 2004.
One of the explicit promises in that letter was that:
The United States will lead efforts, working together with Jordan, Egypt, and others in the international community, to build the capacity and will of Palestinian institutions to fight terrorism, dismantle terrorist organizations, and prevent the areas from which Israel has withdrawn from posing a threat that would have to be addressed by any other means. [Emphasis added].
In early 2005, in anticipation of the Gaza disengagement, the U.S. appointed a Middle East Security Coordinator (first Lt. Gen. William Ward, then Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton), who went with his team to the region. Gaza became a severe security problem from the very first week following Israel’s disengagement, and in June 2007 Hamas took over Gaza in fighting that lasted less than a week.
In an interview published Friday, Gen. Dayton had the following exchange with Jerusalem Post editor David Horovitz about the failure to prevent the Hamas takeover:
You had no responsibility for overseeing the training of anybody in Gaza before and at the time of the June 2007 violence?
We had no responsibility for training anyone in Gaza. We didn’t provide them any weapons or any ammunition, or any of that sort of thing. There was a small program we had an interest in. It dealt with the Presidential Guard at the border crossing at Rafah. That was it. I didn’t have any money – you can check back – to do anything, even if we had been asked to do it. But we were not asked to do it.
Not asked to do it?