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      The Disengagement Struggle Continues

      Tensions are mounting within the two Likud camps - for and against the disengagement plan - with the referendum to be held only six days from now.
      First Publish: 4/26/2004, 3:38 PM / Last Update: 4/26/2004, 5:11 PM

      Tensions are mounting within the two Likud camps - for and against the disengagement plan - with the referendum to be held only six days from now. Some 200,000 Likud members will vote on Sunday on whether or not to accept Prime Minister Sharon's unilateral withdrawal plan.

      Tireless organizers of the house-to-house campaign have tonight off, as Independence Day night is not considered the right time to visit people at home. They are using it, however, to prepare for the culmination of their efforts: Referendum Day itself and how to get the anti-expulsion voters to the polls. Both sides agree that efficient organization on that day can make the difference between victory and defeat.

      A sample conversation between an anti-expulsion volunteer and a Likud member in the Talpiot neighborhood of Jerusalem last night:

      Likud member: "Look, we can't go on this way. We have to do something. It's better for us to simply detach ourselves from Gaza."
      Volunteer: "We already have detached from Gaza - we have not ruled over most of Gaza since 1994. But what Sharon wants to do now is to detach the Jews from their homes, school, synagogues and businesses, in areas where barely any Arabs live. In addition, the Erez area in northern Gaza will remain open, and even more Arabs will be permitted to cross into pre-1967 Israel than before! So where's the disengagement, and where's the security? ... Our leaders think we're weak, so they want to give in. But in this upcoming vote, we can show them that we're strong. We can thus give strength to our leaders!"
      Likud member: "...You're doing a good thing [by going house to house]. More power to you!"

      Land of Israel supporters also face another stiff challenge: the Likud management's plan to bar the presence of independent supervisors at the polling stations. Sharon's people maintain that a team of supervisors - each responsible for a number of polls - is sufficient, while the anti-retreat forces feel that fairness requires a representative from each side at each polling station. The latter have brought their case to court, and a ruling is expected this afternoon. The petitioners produced a letter supporting their appeal signed by such key Likud members as Finance Minister Netanyahu and Education Minister Livnat.