'Sharon clearly planned another Judea and Samaria withdrawal'

Dennis Ross confirms that after disengagement, late Prime Minister, along with Tzipi Livni, pushed security and legal framework for move.

Mordechai Sones ,

Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon
Flash 90

Two weeks after the "disengagement" and expulsion and destruction of all Jewish communities in Gush Katif, Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that he thought the U.S. Secretary of State should be informed that the disengagement in Gaza was "only a preview" and that a similar move was expected in the Judea and Samaria sector.

Sharon, Olmert told the Israel Hayom newspaper, did not like the idea, but did not prevent Olmert from presenting the idea to Condoleezza Rice. Olmert even reported the meeting to Sharon when he returned from the United States.

Sharon discussed with his associates the possibility of making a similar move in Judea and Samaria, if the "Road Map" plan failed and negotiations with the "Palestinians" reached a dead end. However, the discussions did not mature into a decision.

Moreover, at the end of that year, and about a month before Sharon fell into a coma, Sharon and his Justice Minister appointed Tzipi Livni as member of a committee headed by then-Justice Ministry Director Aharon Abramovich.

Abramovich and other committee members, including former Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Moshe Kaplinski and Deputy Spokesman for International Affairs Shavit Matias, were asked to present the security, economic, legal, and political framework for another withdrawal, according to the lessons of the disengagement in the Judea and Samaria sector as well. After Sharon suffered a severe stroke and Olmert became prime minister, Olmert openly promoted the "convergence" program, intended to unilaterally withdraw Israel from other areas in the Judea and Samaria sector as well.

A paper published in 2000 by the Ariel Center for Policy Research identified some security frameworks that were prepared for a Judea/Samaria withdrawal, namely, the PA armored threat to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. The paper stated: "Because the IDF limits yishuv self defense to small arms, the growing armor vehicle capability of the PA would render the assault troops it carries invulnerable to yishuv defenders. The IDF gate guards do not have anything to stop these vehicles. The standard sliding gates for all yishuvim would buckle under the impact of such armored vehicles, and many yishuvim lack even this 'obstacle' – such that the only thing separating between the attacker and the yishuv is a moving aluminum arm painted red and white."

Armored vehicles are a particular threat to the yishuvim because they can easily smash their way through yishuv gates. The armored vehicles could roam within the yishuvim because the IDF withheld anti-armor weapons from yishuv stockpiles.

The report went on to say that "The PA armored vehicle force is not capable of challenging the IDF, but would be unstoppable in a first strike on yishuvim. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that that is their purpose.

"Although it is possible to gain sudden entry into yishuvim by using commandos or even less prepared troops - as the examples of Ariel and Ofra show - armored vehicles provide a rapid capability to do so that ground troops cannot match." The report can be seen in the original Hebrew here.

At that time, Israel justified PA armored vehicles according to Oslo saying Arafat needed them to protect his government from Arab extremist elements, while at the same time trying to deny their existence.

In a 2005 memorandum to Council of Torah Sages heads, this author provided the United Torah Judaism Party with the IDF operational plans for the Gaza withdrawal and analysis to examine halakhic aspects of expelling Jews from their homes. The document stated that "Although all indicators are that the Israel government intends to continue with the Gaza eviction, strategically, the Gaza eviction is not Sharon’s main attack. This is the secondary attack. The main tool of eviction is the fence around Judea and Samaria."

The memorandum went on to warn: "To some degree, they want Yeshans and Yesha supporters consumed with defending Gaza. That is part of the strategy, so people are ignoring the completion and activation of the 'security fence'. The public version they are pushing is the eviction of Gaza, so any friend of Israel looking where to fight is fighting the eviction of Gaza, when in fact the Gaza eviction is a partial decoy, and the Judea Samaria eviction interplays with it."

Therefore, the memorandum concludes, "although this document is not the complete truth, it is a very important segment of the truth.

"In history, each one of these surprise attacks – Pearl Harbor, allies attacking Normandy instead of Calais, Yom Kippur war, etc. – each successful surprise had intelligence officers on the other side who knew it was coming, and who could not convince their superiors to take the evidence seriously.

"The document states at the end that sequence and dates have been switched, like Sharon did in Yamit, and like in the Lebanese abandonment when a date was being discussed for the retreat when it actually happened two or three months earlier, thus producing some element of shock and surprise. So when they start putting out dates for the Gaza Eviction, we have to look for indications for the actual Gaza Eviction date."

The letter to the Council of Torah Sages concluded: "It is therefore crucial to get Sharon’s general Yesha strategy out to the general public. In other words, Yes, defend Gaza; yes, enable them to defend themselves any way we can, but realize that the main push is coming against Judea and Samaria."

Sharon's bureau Director Adv. Dov Weisglass added in this regard that "the disengagement from the Gaza Strip was a move in itself, but it was intended to be integrated into another course that would follow, based on both the Road Map program and the desire to avoid a dead end. The idea was to continue a similar operation in the West Bank as well," Weisglass confirms, describing what happened as "a film in which a power outage occurred."

Former United States senior official Dennis Ross also confirmed that "Sharon clearly planned another withdrawal in the West Bank."

Tzipi Livni
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