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Netanyahu: Gush Katif One Expulsion Too Many

Prime Minister Netanyahu, who voted to expel 10,000 Jews four years ago until the last minute, vowed on Sunday not to repeat the same mistake.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 8/9/2009, 12:42 PM

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who voted with the Sharon government four years to expel 10,000 Jews from their Gaza and northern Samarian homes, told the Cabinet on Sunday he will not repeat the same mistake. His support for the expulsion plan, known as the 2005 Disengagement, was critical until the Sharon government had enough backers, allowing Netanyahu to vote against the program after its execution was assured. 

"[We] won't repeat that mistake. We won't create new evacuees," The Prime Minister told ministers while recalling the expulsions from the Gush Katif region of Gaza and four communities in northern Samaria. Prime Minister Netanyahu noted that turning over the Gaza region to the Palestinian Authority did not leave Israel with peace or security while the government “ruined” the lives of expulsion victims.

         Netanyahu at Cabinet meeting Sunday         Promising not to surrender communities in Judea and Samaria to the Palestinian Authority, the Prime Minister said there will be no unilateral expulsions. "We want a bilateral agreement," including recognition of Israel as a Jewish state by the PA and secure security agreements, he added.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has refused to describe Israel as a Jewish state, which would implicitly void his demand that five million foreign Arabs, claiming ancestry in Israel, be allowed to enter the country and create a de facto Arab majority.

The rhetoric appears to be more and more theoretical as both Israel and the PA have drawn opposing red lines. The convention of the Fatah party, led by Abbas, issued a resolution that calls for Jerusalem to be part of the PA, either by peace or by force, which it said is legitimate under international law. However, the Fatah policy paper did not specifically name eastern Jerusalem, leaving open a claim for sovereignty over the entire city.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who also is chairman of the Labor party, said that the Fatah convention rhetoric is “unacceptable.” He added that any solution to the Middle East conflict demands a comprehensive peace agreement.

Last week, the Defense Minister claimed that the United States will present a step-by-step plan for a peace agreement and that Israel should accept it, although its contents are not yet known.