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Tens of thousands protest Israeli withdrawal plan


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#1    Barnacle Battlefront

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Posted 14 September 2004 - 05:53 AM

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Tens of thousands of people gathered in downtown Jerusalem on Sunday to protest Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to withdraw from Gaza and parts of the West Bank by the middle of next year.

Waving blue and white Israeli flags, the protesters stood before a stage in Zion Square. Behind the speakers on the stage was a huge banner reading "Disengagement is tearing the nation apart."

Although polls show most Israelis support the plan, those opposed to it -- particularly settlers whose homes could be removed from the disputed areas -- have become increasingly vocal.

Shaul Goldstein, a settler spokesman and head of the Gush Etzion settlement bloc in the West Bank south of Jerusalem, said Sharon -- who many call the father of the settler movement because of his previous support for settlements -- "was elected on a totally, totally different agenda."

He noted that former Labor Party leader Amram Mitzna, who ran against Sharon, "proposed the same plan that Sharon is planning today, and he was refused and rejected. ... I voted for Sharon. I am not going to vote for Sharon next time."

Settler Ruth Romen added: "If you bring people to the position where they are being thrown out of their homes, I think we might be coming towards a very dangerous situation."

Some demonstrators held signs calling Sharon a "dictator." One group of young protesters held a sign calling him a "traitor," but organizers of the protest quickly had them take it down.

The Web site of the daily newspaper Haaretz quoted organizers as estimating the crowd at nearly 100,000.

Under Sharon's proposal, Israel would pull all troops out of Gaza and abandon all settlements in the territory, but it would keep six large settlement blocs in the West Bank.

There are about 230,000 Israelis living in West Bank settlements. Gaza is home to about 7,500 Jewish settlers.

In recent days, some settlers have called on the Israel Defense Forces to deny any order to dismantle settlements. Some settlers have also threatened violence -- and even warned of a potential civil war.

Some Israeli political analysts compare the atmosphere to that of 1995, before Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a fanatic religious settler.

"Those areas belong to us, and we fought for it with our blood. We poured our blood for this, so we don't want to give it up," said Nadav Efrati, another settler at Sunday's protest.

Sharon addressed the issue Sunday at his weekly Cabinet meeting.

"Recently, we have seen a severe campaign of incitement, with intentional calls for civil war," he said, according to a news release from his office.

"I see this as very serious. I think that the threats on IDF officers and security establishment personnel are a very grave phenomenon. Leave the IDF out of it. They cannot be threatened or incited against."

Sharon also called on fellow government officials to speak out against any settlers who are making such threats.

"Not many voices have been heard, even from within the Cabinet, on this issue. I call on you -- even those of you not directly charged with the matter -- to take all necessary measures: Raise your voices and take the IDF and the security forces out of this ugly game."

The withdrawal legislation, including a compensation package for settlers, is due to go before Sharon's Cabinet for a vote Tuesday. Sharon has said he plans to present the bill to the Knesset, Israel's parliament, by November 3.

The Gaza settlements would be evacuated sometime after final approval of the withdrawal plan, Sharon has said.

Sharon heads a minority government after settler parties pulled out of his coalition. A right-wing faction inside his Likud party recently forced a party vote rejecting the idea that coalition talks should be opened with the opposition Labor Party, which supports Sharon's disengagement plan.

Although some within Likud oppose the plan, the same polls that show a majority of Israelis back the proposal also indicate that should Sharon decide to call early elections, he would easily win.

Israel seized the West Bank from Jordan and Gaza from Egypt in 1967 during the Six-Day War and began building settlements there soon after.

Sharon argues that a unilateral withdrawal is needed because Israel has been unable to find a Palestinian partner with which to negotiate a peace agreement.

Palestinians have criticized the planned withdrawal, calling it an attempt to circumvent negotiations called for in the U.S.-backed "road map" to Middle East peace.

The disengagement plan includes the building of a barrier -- already under construction -- that Israel says will block Palestinians from attacking Israel from the West Bank.

Palestinians call the barrier a land grab, saying it leaves many Palestinians cut off from farms, schools and hospitals as it winds its way through Palestinian portions of the West Bank.

i think they should get israeli's out of the west bank and gaza. it's going to help stop them getting killed. i don't like the idea of the barrier but it's going to help stop israeli's getting killed, so i'm not complaining.

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#2    Erikl

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Posted 14 September 2004 - 08:33 AM

QUOTE
Israel seized the West Bank from Jordan and Gaza from Egypt in 1967 during the Six-Day War and began building settlements there soon after.

Well it is more like "began re-building settelements"... many settelments in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria in their original name) are built on places where once (before 1948) stood Jewish communities.
For example, almost all of Gush Etzion bloc's population (which was mentioned in the article), are the survivers (and their children) of the massacre of Gush Etzion which was done by the Jordanian army and Palestinian terrorists back in 1948 war.

QUOTE
Sharon argues that a unilateral withdrawal is needed because Israel has been unable to find a Palestinian partner with which to negotiate a peace agreement.

I too believe that a withdrawal from the Gaza strip is needed, but not a unilateral withrawal.
Such a unilateral withdrawal without any compromise from the Palestinian side, and without destroying Hamas (which pratically rule the Gaza strip), will be a prize for the terrorists, and a back wind to their terrorist actions. They already say - "Here, we managed to get rid of those dirty Jews from the Gaza strip with our violent actions, now we can drive them from all of Palestine! (aka Israel... Hamas consideres all of Israel as Palestine, and aspire for the esrablishment of a Palestinian Islamic Republic which is 100% Muslim)".

I think that we first need to destroy Hamas, then find some moderate leader among the Palestinians, and then negotiate with him.
Arafat, Hamas, PA, Islamic Jihad... are all the same: terrorists.
Nothing good will ever come from negotiating with them.
Heck! we already negotiated with Arafat and his PA for 7 years when he blew it all with his terrorist campaign against Israel which tommorow will be 4 years long.

Edited by Erikl, 14 September 2004 - 08:34 AM.

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