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      PM Sharon Explains - Ten Years Ago - Why Not To Withdraw From Gaza

      Ten years ago today, on the 12th anniversary of the Sinai withdrawal, then-MK Ariel Sharon told Arutz-7 why a withdrawal from Gaza, Samaria or Judea was totally unacceptable:

      First Publish: 4/20/2004, 2:55 PM / Last Update: 4/20/2004, 12:19 PM

      Today is Yamit Day - the 22nd anniversary of the uprooting of the northern Sinai city of Yamit and a dozen neighboring communities. The evacuation and uprooting, which was carried out in the framework of the peace treaty with Egypt, was overseen by then-Prime Minister Begin and then-Defense Minister Ariel Sharon. The day will be marked in the Hesder Yeshiva of N'vei Dekalim - and probably nowhere else - beginning at 5 PM. Yeshiva head Rabbi David Gavrieli will deliver a Torah lecture and a film on the evacuation will be shown. The evening will be capped off with a talk by Col. (res.) Rabbi Moshe Hager, who heads a pre-military yeshiva academy in Beit Yatir and was a leader of the 1979-82 Movement to Stop the Withdrawal in Sinai.

      Precisely ten years ago, on the 12th anniversary of the Yamit pull-out, Sharon was interviewed on Arutz-7. The then-Knesset Member explained why a withdrawal from Gaza, Samaria or Judea was totally unacceptable. Excerpts:

      A-7: "Some of the public remembers you, MK Sharon - possibly to your consternation - as the man who evacuated Yamit. Can you take us back to this day 12 years ago? Where were you, what did you do?"
      Sharon: "First of all, I would like to note that it was very hard to separate from Sinai, an area in which we fought during the Six Day War, the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War, and an area whose horizons we came to know. It was especially painful to evacuate the communities and their residents. This was very painful. We made great efforts with the Egyptians to retain these areas, but it was impossible to do this and at the same time to make peace with them; we tried many other avenues, including an exchange of territory, but these did not succeed. On the one hand it was very sad, but it also aroused not a small amount of jealousy to see how the Egyptians related to their sacred values..."

      A-7: "Your formulation at the time was, 'Peace in exchange for territory" - something we are hearing now as well [in the framework of the six-month-old Oslo agreement, to which Sharon and the Likud strongly objected - ed. note]."
      Sharon: "I think it is very hard to compare that which occurred in Sinai, or what we could have done then, with what we face now. Sinai was a land far from our population centers, and we were able to reach an agreement that an area 200 kilometers wide would remain demilitarized forever. In addition, we signed an agreement with a sovereign country that controls its territory - and not with a terrorist organization that cannot and does not want to control terror organizations, nor even its own internal factions that continue to employ terrorism. In addition, Egypt had no other territorial demands [other than what we gave them], and this is different than the present situation."

      It is interesting to note that every one of the four points Sharon made in comparing the Sinai agreement with the Oslo Accords work to the detriment of the disengagement plan he is now promoting:
      * Gaza is close to Israeli population centers.
      * No agreement on demilitarization has been reached.
      * No agreement has been signed with a sovereign country; in fact, no agreement is to be signed at all!
      * The entity that will be taking control of the area still has major territorial demands upon Israel.