MKs Ask: Why Continue with Unilateral Withdrawal?

MK Eli Yishai, head of the Shas Party, says that in light of Arafat's disappearance from the picture, the disengagement plan must be reconsidered in the Knesset and elsewhere.

, | updated: 12:54 PM

"Implementing the withdrawal under the current circumstances will turn Israel into the ostrich of the Middle East," Yishai says.

According to Yishai, whose party represents religious Sephardic Jewry, "Sharon has said that there is no partner with whom to talk in the Palestinian Authority, and that's why he has to implement this plan unilaterally. Now that there might be someone with whom to talk, there won't be anything left to talk about." There is no such thing as carrying out the plan "in coordination" with the PA, Yishai said: "Either it's unilateral, or it's with an agreement. Everything else is illusion."

"Whoever thinks that an agreement will be reached immediately upon Arafat's death," Yishai said, "doesn't understand a thing about the Middle East. It is not correct to continue at this time with the plan as it currently stands. Therefore, in light of the circumstances, there must be a new political and public debate to formulate a plan that will have the support of a broad coalition."

MK Uzi Landau, fired recently from his Cabinet position by Prime Minister Sharon because of his opposition to the expulsion/withdrawal plan, said, "Arafat's demise crumbles the basic assumptions of the dangerous disengagement plan, which therefore must not be allowed to proceed. To advance it under the current circumstances is first-degree irresponsibility."

Other voices on the right include:
Likud MK Yechiel Chazan: "We are happy to be free of this arch-murderer, who caused such great harm to his people and the People of Israel. His wretched and contentious death is a symbolic and appropriate end to his life that was full of terrorism and genocide. The disengagement plan must be stopped immediately, in light of the possibility of finding a partner on the Palestinian side."

MK Tzvi Hendel (National Union): "The death of Arafat must lead also to the death of the expulsion plan. The first step that must be done is to return the murderous terrorists who surrounded Arafat back to Tunis, and to thus help bring up a new generation of local Palestinian leadership that will totally shake off terrorism."

MK Gideon Saar (Likud): "Arafat's way of life was one of terrorism and hatred for Israel. Arafat sanctified in the Palestinian society the ideals of terrorism, shahidim, and the return of the refugees. He prevented reforms and alternate leadership. Let's hope this will now change."

MK Effie Eitam (National Religious Party): "Today, a heavy cloud that hovered over the values of life, freedom and liberty was removed. Very few times in history have we encountered a mortal being who was so totally evil. The blood of thousands of our brothers cries out to us from the earth, for though he has died, his legacy lives poisonously on in the hearts of his people. It will take many years to cure this affliction from their hearts. From today, the Palestinians must strive to return to the culture of life, justice and compassion, so that in the future we will be able to conduct dialogue and attain peace and tranquility in the Land of Israel."

MK Sha'ul Yahalom (NRP): "The fact that Sharon refuses to freeze his disengagement program, and waits instead to see the new leadership that will arise after Arafat, is foolishness and a political mistake, in that it loses the chance to conduct negotiations over our important assets."