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October 26, 2004
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Israel will remove its troops from some Palestinian areas

The Jerusalem Post (www.jpost.com) has reported that Israel's parliament, the "Knesset", has decided to remove the nation's troops and settlements from some Palestinian areas, including the Gaza strip and the northern West Bank:

Israel's Knesset voted Tuesday night to approve Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to unilaterally disengage from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank.

- 67 MKs voted in favor
- 45 MKs voted against
- 7 MKs abstained
(Ed. note: "MK" stands for "Members of Knesset, Israel's parliament)

Under the principles of the plan, Israel is to have no presence in the Gaza Strip or northern West Bank by the end of 2005, except for the Philadelphi route on the Egypt-Gaza border. Sharon does not intend to seek Knesset approval for the cabinet decision on evacuations, according to his advisors.

The plan could still be halted by a public referendum, and the cabinet must also convene to decide whether, where and when to give the order to evacuate settlements. The Likud Party was split in the vote, with 23 voting in favor and 17 against. Twenty-nine of the votes in favor came from left-wing opposition MKs, and one from MK Michael Nudelman of the far-right National Union party. Fourteen Shinui MKs also voted for the plan.

Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian excuse for a leader, has rejected peace with Israel and turned to the deliberate murder of women and children in October 2000 (click here for details). The Palestinians have rejected a state of their own twice, once in 1948 and once in 2000, click here for more details.

The disengagement plan from the mass murdering bastards from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas is not a result of peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but is a unilateral decision made by Israel which is properly executing what it thinks is best.

On the one hand, many Palestinians have made it clear that their only goal is to destroy Israel and murder every Israeli man, women and child; it would make therefore sense to fight the Palestinian mass murderers where it hurts them most: in their cities and towns. On the other hand, deploying Israeli troops in the Palestinian areas costs us lives, money and is a huge effort on reserve soldiers.

Since Israel is a Western Democracy (click here for details), the plan to remove the troops from the Palestinian areas will have to pass a national referendum, where every Israeli, including one million Israeli Arab Muslims, will have the right to vote.

I copy the full article below.

Israel's Knesset approves disengagement from Gaza
By NINA GILBERT AND GIL HOFFMAN, Oct. 25, 2004, Link

Israel's Knesset voted Tuesday night to approve Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to unilaterally disengage from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank.

67 MKs voted in favor
45 MKs voted against
7 MKs abstained

Under the principles of the plan, Israel is to have no presence in the Gaza Strip or northern West Bank by the end of 2005, except for the Philadelphi route on the Egypt-Gaza border. Sharon does not intend to seek Knesset approval for the cabinet decision on evacuations, according to his advisors.

The plan could still be halted by a public referendum, and the cabinet must also convene to decide whether, where and when to give the order to evacuate settlements. The Likud Party was split in the vote, with 23 voting in favor and 17 against. Twenty-nine of the votes in favor came from left-wing opposition MKs, and one from MK Michael Nudelman of the far-right National Union party. Fourteen Shinui MKs also voted for the plan.

"The Knesset has decided by a maority vote and the decision binds us all," Speaker Reuven Rivlin said after the vote.

Labor's Dalia Itzik called the vote "a historic day for the State of Israel." Efi Eitam said the vote was "catastrophic a decision to uproot thousands of Jews." He added that in 14 days the NRP would be out of the coalition and Israel will be headed for elections.

A group of five senior Likud ministers headed by Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who are pushing for a referendum trickled in to vote in the second round of the roll call, keeping the Knesset in suspense until the last moment. Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz was the first to arrive, and voted in favor after having refrained from declaring until then how he would vote. Netanyahu, Education Minister Limor Livnat, Health Minister Dani Naveh, and MK Yuval Steinitz also voted in favor as had been expected.

Ministers Uzi Landau (Likud) and Zevulun Orlev (National Religious Party), and Deputy Industry and Trade Minister Michael Ratzon voted against the plan, which served as grounds for their dismissal from the government. Sharon decided after the vote to only fire Landau and Ratzon. Several Likud ministers close to Sharon expressed objections to the move.

Netanyahu, however, dropped his bombshell moments after the vote, saying that he and ministers Livnat, Yisrael Katz and and Danny Naveh will quit the government within 14 days if Sharon does not agree to hold a national referendum.

"We [Netanyahu, Livnat, Naveh and Katz] decided to allow the prime minister to bring this question to a referendum within 14 days," Netanyahu said. When asked if he would leave the government in two weeks if Sharon rejects the proposal, Netanyahu answered in the affirmative. "We are not interested in toppling the prime minister," Netanyahu said. "We cannot support this initiative without it being taken to the people in a referendum," he added.

So far the only formal response from the PMO to Netanyahu's ultimatum is a statement saying, "it is unacceptable that the Finance Minister delivers messages to the Prime Minister through the media."

Just moments before the planned vote on Tuesday night, Netanyahu and Livnat asked Sharon to meet with them outside the Knesset hall, but Sharon refused, saying he had already entered the plenum and was listening to the last speeches.

Sharon's aides accused Netanyahu of attempting to topple Sharon and undermining the prime minister.

Avner Shimoni, Gaza Regional Council head said he was saddened by the vote and that the Knesset majority was "a leftist majority."

Sharon's aides accused Netanyahu of attempting to topple Sharon and undermining the prime minister.

Avner Shimoni, Gaza Regional Council head said he was saddened by the vote and that the Knesset majority was "a leftist majority."

"We are about to decide on the issue which most divides the Israeli nation," Rivlin said before the vote. "It is incumbent on everyone here to vote in the best interests of the State of Israel," Rivlin added.

Social Affairs Minister Zevulun Orlev (NRP) said Tuesday night that his party will quit the government within fourteen days if Prime Minister Ariel Sharon does not agree to hold a national referendum on unilateral disengagement.

"We demand a national referendum and promise to remain in the coalition even if the outcome of the referendum is not to out liking. If within 14 days there is no agreement on referendum, the National Religious Party will quit the government," Orlev said. The Yesha Council of Settlements also signed the NRP's pledge.

Labor Party MKs jumped jubilantly from their seats after the late Likud group cast their votes in favor, while Likud MKs sat solemnly. NRP MK Gila Finkelstein said she could not understand the celebration on the Left over the uprooting of Jews from their homes, calling it a "disgrace to the Knesset." Labor Party leader Shimon Peres went to shake Sharon's hand. Peres expressed disgust at the late arrival of Netanyahu, saying he had "never seen the Knesset at such a low point in the 45 years" he has served as an MK. "Netanyahu is not honoring his own compromise," Peres said.

Peres was referring to the stages that were added into the disengagement plan after the Likud rejected the original one in a referendum. The June 6 cabinet decision also states clearly that the approval of the plan by the government was not a decision to evacuate settlements. The Knesset voted on the exact text approved by the cabinet.

The High Court of Justice on Tuesday published a report explaining its rejection of five petitions against Sharon's sacking of National Union ministers Benny Elon and Avigdor Lieberman in June, preceding the June 6 cabinet vote on disengagment. The court's explanation clarifies why Sharon has a green light to fire ministers for their political views, or because they oppose the prime minister's diplomatic or political initiatives.

Prime Minister Sharon will dismiss Minister -Without Portfolio Uzi Landau and deputy Industry and Trade Minister Michael Ratzon for voting against disengagement, Israel Radio reported.

Prime Minister Sharon said this week he will fire any minister who votes against his plan to remove all Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and four from the northern West Bank.

In an unplanned meeting with journalists in the halls of the Knesset building, Sharon said that Tuesday night's vote will be the last time that the matter is brought before parliament. Any further steps towards implementing the plan will be taken care of only by the cabinet.

In regards to recent pressure on the prime minister to hold a national referendum on disengagement, Sharon said, "No one is pressuring me. No one has called. I am going forward with the disengagement plan as is, without a referendum, and the plan will be realized," Army Radio reported. He emphasized that there is no chance he will change his mind on holding a referendum.

Sharon added that the government will initiate an extensive public diplomacy campaign beginning next week on the disengagement plan and its benefits.

Earlier in the day the prime minister told his close associates that he had no intention of leaving his post as prime minister for the presidency, he has no intention to quit, and he plans to continue on in the same direction until his work is done.

The plan submitted to the Knesset is the exact version approved by the cabinet on June 6, which states explicitly in its first clause that the approval of the plan by the government was "not a decision to evacuate settlements."

For the evacuation to be carried out, the cabinet must meet again to decide on which settlements to evacuate and when. The Knesset must also approve the disengagement plan implementation legislation in three readings. The bill being drafted by the government determines compensation and evacuation procedures.

Under the bill, which is to be brought for a first reading on November 1, settlers who leave the Gaza Strip and relocate to the Galilee or Negev will get a $30,000 bonus.

Sharon may have been referring to this element in the plan when he declared that it would boost security in vital areas.

However, the government also attached to the plan a letter from US President George W. Bush outlining US commitments to Israel as a result of the plan. One of the assurances says that in light of realities on the ground, "it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final-status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949."

Posted by David Melle at October 26, 2004 02:29 PM
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