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      Shabak Head - & U.S. Officials - Unhappy With Withdrawal Plan

      GSS chief Avi Dichter is the latest security and defense expert to come out against Prime Minister Sharon's unilateral withdrawal plan. A senior Bush Administration official says the plan will empower Hamas.
      First Publish: 2/11/2004, 3:11 PM / Last Update: 2/11/2004, 11:41 AM

      Shabak (General Security Service) chief Avi Dichter is the latest security and defense expert to come out against Prime Minister Sharon's unilateral withdrawal plan. Dichter said today that he agrees with IDF Intelligence Chief Gen. Ze'evi-Farkash, who said yesterday that the Palestinian terrorist organizations interpret Sharon's offer to retreat and destroy the Jewish settlement enterprise in Gaza as their victory and, as such, a catalyst for more terrorism.

      Dichter said that the terrorist organizations, seeing this as an Israeli surrender, have begun an internal war for the "credit" for this achievement, and "this is manifest by their stepping-up of terrorism against the Jews of Gaza and IDF soldiers."

      A senior Bush Administration official is also against Sharon's plan, fearing that it will empower Hamas and bury the Road Map. The unnamed official "leaked" this information to a Reuters reporter yesterday. Despite Israeli diplomatic efforts, the White House has so far refused to set a date for a meeting between President Bush and Prime Minister Sharon. Such a meeting can be held, at the earliest, in March.

      Following the remarks by Intelligence Chief Farkash in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee yesterday - he said that a unilateral withdrawal could lead to an increase in terrorism - IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon said that army officers should not comment publicly on the plan. Yaalon said he is trying to avoid friction between governmental and military echelons.