Government to Vote on Destruction of Three Jewish Towns

The government is expected to approve this evening the dismantling of the first group of Jewish towns under PM Sharon's Disengagement Plan. On the chopping block: Netzarim, Morag, Kfar Darom.

Hillel Fendel , | updated: 09:04

The specification of these three towns does not, however, mean that they will be first to be destroyed. Fifteen other towns in Gush Katif are also slated for destruction, and the government has already announced that it will proceed from north to south in razing them. Four communities in northern Samaria are also threatened with destruction, but no order has been announced for such.

A government decision of several months ago determined that the expulsion would not begin before the day of fasting and mourning of Tisha B'Av, which falls next Sunday.

Pictured above: the synagogue in Morag

The entry of the left-wing Labor Party into the government seven months ago has virtually assured Prime Minister Sharon of a majority on all disengagement-related votes, including that of today. Only four ministers are expected to register symbolic nay votes against the first stage of the expulsion - Binyamin Netanyahu, Dan Naveh, Yisrael Katz and Tzachi HaNegbi. Limor Livnat has not yet announced how she will vote.

Dozens of people protested outside Finance Minister Netanyahu's home in Jerusalem last night, demanding his resignation from what they called the "expulsion/transfer government." Participants lambasted Netanyahu's "double message" approach - characterized by his statements and votes against the disengagement, while at the same time not taking concrete steps to stop it. They said that this approach would not help him in the upcoming Likud party elections for party leader. "We're Not in Your Pocket," according to signs held at the demonstration.

Another issue on the government's agenda today is where to bury Eden Natan Zada, the soldier who shot and killed four Israeli-Arabs on a bus in the Galilee town of Shfar'am on Thursday. The army had agreed to bury him in a semi-military ceremony on Friday, but shortly before the funeral was to begin, Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz, responding to pressures, vetoed the idea.

Later, Meir Nitzan, the mayor of Zada's hometown of Rishon LeTzion, announced that he would not permit the burial in the city's cemetery - despite the automatic right of every city citizen to be buried in his town. This morning, the Prime Minister's Bureau overruled Nitzan and decreed that Zada would be buried in a civilian ceremony in Rishon LeTzion.

Zada's parents had spoken with both Mofaz and Nitzan, asking that their son be treated like a "person." They had been considering petitioning to the Supreme Court against the delay in his burial. Nitzan, in finally agreeing to bury Zada in his city, said that the murderer's father had "threatened" him.