Katzav: Let the People Decide

President Moshe Katzav says that the best way to decide whether to retreat from Gaza and relocate the Jewish residents is by asking the populace. "Professors for a Strong Israel" responds.

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, | updated: 16:46

President Moshe Katzav said last night that it is likely that the question of whether to retreat from Gaza and relocate the Jewish residents will have to be decided in a plebiscite.

Arutz-7's Haggai Huberman reports that Katzav made this point yesterday before representatives of three nationalist organizations: Professors Chava Tabankin and Ron Breiman of Professors for a Strong Israel; Brig.-Gen. (res.) David Haguel and Col. (res.) Gideon Altshuler of the Officers Forum for National Strength; and Col. (res.) Moshe Hager and Col. (res.) Moti Yogev of Another Spirit.

Katzav told the group that it is, in fact, not clear whether the people support Prime Minister Sharon's disengagement plan, and that as such, "such a drastic step requires a national vote to determine it." He said that the vote could either be a yes-no referendum on this specific question, or new national elections.

Katzav surprised his guests when he said that Sharon told him he does not plan to carry out the disengagement in a blitz, contrary to what had been reported. "Whoever leaked information as if I said that I was planning a one-shot disengagement leaked wrong information," Sharon told Katzav last Friday. The Prime Minister did tell the Likud MKs last week, however, that he plans to rush up the process and not wait "weeks or months" between each stage - to the consternation of Ministers Netanyahu, Livnat and others, who said that the Cabinet decision stipulated a significant break between each stage.

Earlier, Katzav met with a larger delegation of Professors for a Strong Israel (PSI), which presented him with a series of reasons why the disengagement is dangerous and undesirable for Israel. Gen. Haguel, who commanded the Judea/Samaria region in the past, and Col. Altshuler, who was Sharon's Chief of Staff when Sharon was a general in the Yom Kippur War, said that the disengagement would enable the terrorists to attack Israeli targets with greater ease. "Ashkelon will receive Kassam rockets just like Sderot," they said.

Another participant, International Law Prof. Talia Einhorn, said that Israel is not taking full advantage of its legal rights in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and is thereby denying the validity of the international charters to which it is a signatory.

Prof. Chava Tabankin, a doctor in the HaEmek Hospital in Afula, is a member of the left-wing Kibbutz Ein Harod. She told Arutz-7's Ruti Avraham this past April, "The process of 'relocating Jews' raises associations of the Nazis - who started their whole process by 'relocating Jews.' During the Holocaust, we didn't have a state or an army, and that's why they 'relocated' Jews and established Judenraat that did the 'selections' for them. Now that we have our own state and government, we have to relocate ourselves?"

She further said, "We are very lucky that in Tel Chai and Kfar Giladi [settlements in the northern Galilee that were repeatedly attacked and besieged in the early 20th century - ed.], we didn't have defeatists like these. Even after [pre-State Zionist leader Yosef] Trumpeldor was killed they didn't give up. If they would have evacuated Jews from their homes in those days, our border would have ended up on the Kinneret Sea." Prof. Tabankin said that a full 20% of the members of her kibbutz voted for Sharon "because of his activism, but they didn't want Yossi Sarid's policies. They wouldn't have voted for Sharon if they would have known that he would evacuate Jews - and without even getting anything in return."