Voices in Favor of Condensing Expulsion Process

Army officers and officials now say that the expulsion should not be carried out in four separate stages, as per the Cabinet decision, but rather in one fell swoop of between two and four weeks.

Hillel Fendel, | updated: 15:06

The decision to divide the withdrawal into four parts was made in June 2004 as a compromise. Only after its details were patiently hammered out did government ministers such as Binyamin Netanyahu, Silvan Shalom and Limor Livnat agree to vote in favor of it.

Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who agrees with the new recommendation to condense the process, explained why: "Ever since the original decision was made to do it in four stages, things have changed. Everyone understands that at that time, the decision was made in order to get some people who didn't agree to the plan [to agree to it]; but now this is not the situation. There is no logic to have a break after each stage, which will only cause the process to be protracted, as well as extra fights and tension."

Justice Minister Tzippy Livny, who worked out the details of the compromise, as well as Ministers Gideon Ezra and Ze'ev Boim, agree with Olmert.

Other Likud ministers, however, say that the original compromise must not be changed. Health Minister Dan Naveh said, "Taking a break after each stage gives us a chance to review each one and draw the appropriate conclusions."

Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz, like Naveh, is an opponent of the disengagement plan who has voted against it whenever he could do so without voting against the government - which would lead to his firing. Katz said today, "I think that the original government decision must be honored; our democracy has been stretched sufficiently of late..."

Katz said that he voted "against this compromise [in the Cabinet a year ago], because I knew that even a staged disengagement is still a disengagement. If we cancel the stages, however, it means that someone [Prime Minister Sharon - ed.] fears that there will be terrorism but doesn't want to discuss it in real-time... Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz was in on the original decision, and if there were military considerations, they should have been taken into account then..."

O.C. Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Dan Har'el told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee today that the expulsion/withdrawal plan in Gaza would begin in the north and proceed southward.

Har'el also admitted to the committee that the army had failed in protecting Moshe and Rachel Kol, who were murdered by Palestinian terrorists on the road to Gush Katif on Saturday night. He said that after terrorists opened fire shortly after the Sabbath, the army closed the road - but apparently re-opened it afterwards too early, without making perfectly clear that no terrorists were present.




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