Right-Wing Rejects Sharon´s Accusations of "Civil War" Calls

Sharon banged on the table: "We are witness to a grave campaign of incitement, with calls for a civil war." MK Uri Ariel said, "He knows the anti-disengagement leadership is against violence."

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, | updated: 11:28

"The key is in the hands of the Prime Minister," said MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union). "If he refrains from trying to uproot Jewish communities, there won't be a threat of a civil war." Prime Minister Sharon, however, is on the offensive: "They won't scare me," he told his advisors, who "leaked" this to the media. "I wont let them divide the nation... I call upon the [Yesha] residents to stop this thing."

This morning, at the start of the weekly Cabinet session, Sharon banged on the table and stridently declared, "We are witness to a grave campaign of incitement, with calls for a civil war. I view this with great gravity. ...I call upon the Defense Minister to employ all the necessary measures to stop the threats on IDF officers."

Sharon was referring to an incident that allegedly occurred two weeks ago in Gush Etzion in which a security officer who supervised the evacuation of an outpost in the Shomron was either threatened or otherwise made to feel unwelcome.

Nationalist camp leaders issued a public declaration two days ago in which they made no mention of a civil war. The declaration, signed by increasing numbers of public figures, states only, "We declare that the expulsion and uprooting are a national crime and a crime against humanity." It also calls upon all those involved in the "ethnic cleansing of the Jews from their homeland" not to take part in these acts, and upon the Government of Israel not to issue these "blatantly illegal orders that must not be given and must not be fulfilled," and to thus "prevent an irreversible split in the nation and the army."

Left-wing politicians have sharply attacked the declaration. "This could lead to a civil war," said Justice Minister Yosef (Tommy) Lapid on Friday. "We have a state and we have law, and the rage against the evacuation of communities must be expressed in the framework of democratic rules and the law." He said he identifies in these calls "signs of rebellion against the rule of law."

Another point of contention between Sharon and the nationalist camp he so recently headed is a giant rally planned for tonight in Jerusalem against the withdrawal. Some 100,000 people are expected to participate.

The rally will be preceded by a prayer rally at the Western Wall, beginning at 5:15 PM. Former Chief Rabbis Avraham Shapira and Mordechai Eliyahu will participate.

Sharon hinted his disapproval of the silence of some of the ministers in the face of these efforts against Sharon's policies. "I expect the ministers to speak out on these issues," he said. Left unspoken was the fact that Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's father and brother, and Education Minister Limor Livnat's brother, are signed on the afore-mentioned anti-expulsion declaration.

Responses to Sharon's accusations against the right-wing and their alleged calls for a civil war were fast and furious. NRP leader MK Effie Eitam said, "Sharon knows that the leaders of the struggle against the disengagement are against violence, but he prefers to use false propaganda in order to push broad sectors of the nation into the corner."

MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) said that if a civil war erupts, the responsibility would be on Sharon's shoulders: "If it happens, he will be remembered in Jewish history as the one who caused it."

MK Uri Ariel (National Union) warned Sharon "not to trample all the democratic ideals on his way to disengagement. The pain of the right-wing is a genuine one, their protest is legitimate, and Sharon's attitude towards it is shameful and provocative."