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      HaNegbi: If 5 Likud Ministers Join Me, We Can Stop the Withdrawal

      Public Security Minister HaNegbi of the Likud said he would resign if the government decides to approve Ariel Sharon's unilateral withdrawal-from-Gaza plan, and said that steps must be taken to "shake up" the government.
      First Publish: 2/22/2004, 3:32 PM / Last Update: 2/22/2004, 1:22 PM

      Public Security Minister Tzachi HaNegbi of the Likud Party implied on Friday that if the government decides to approve Ariel Sharon's unilateral withdrawal-from-Gaza plan, steps must be taken to "shake up" the government. "In the event that the withdrawal is approved," HaNegbi said, "it will be necessary to make every effort to get the top brass of the Likud to quit the government. This will cause a dramatic shock."

      Correspondent Haggai Huberman reports in HaTzofeh today that HaNegbi made the surprising statement - the first of its kind from a Likud Cabinet minister - while meeting Yesha leaders in Migron on Friday. The story in HaTzofeh was headlined, "HaNegbi Says Government Must Be Toppled if it Approves Disengagement Plan." Aides to HaNegbi denied this today, saying that their boss merely said that he would vote against the plan, but would not work to topple the government. However, Huberman told Arutz-7 today that HaNegbi said that he himself would resign the government if it approves the withdrawal.

      "If five other ministers join me [in opposing the plan]," HaNegbi continued, "we can stop the disengagement plan. If Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu lead the struggles within the party against the plan, Sharon will cave in." HaNegbi said he is waiting for Netanyahu to sound a clear "No" against the plan. Netanyahu, who met with Sharon last week to discuss the plans for a unilateral withdrawal, said afterwards only that he is against a withdrawal that gains us no "concessions" from the United States. Some political analysts feel that Netanyahu is holding out for an American agreement for an Israeli annexation of certain areas in Judea and Samaria - something that is not likely to occur.

      HaNegbi said that his visit to Migron, which he himself initiated, is "a clear statement of my opposition to the uprooting of outposts in Yesha." Migron is a community of 43 families located five miles north of Jerusalem that has been mentioned as a candidate for uprooting in the framework of the campaign against "unauthorized outposts." HaNegbi said that uprooting the outposts stands in opposition to the Cabinet's own decision of May 25, 2003. On that day, the government approved the Road Map, but added 14 qualifications - one of which is that Israel would take no steps in implementing the plan until the Palestinian Authority fights terrorism.

      HaNegbi was one of the grass-roots leaders of the Movement to Stop the Withdrawal From Sinai in 1981-2. "As a veteran of that struggle," he said, "it's clear to me that we have to fight by making sure that the government does not approve the plan - and not by fighting the decision after it's made." He added that the main problem is that the man who initiated the withdrawal is "one of ours," such that the question is "how do we work against him without causing [damage] that afterwards we will regret."