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Political Analysis and Commentary
on Israeli and Jewish Affairs

"For Zion's sake I shall not hold my peace, And for Jerusalem's sake I shall not rest."

The Gaza Betrayal
By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz | August 29, 2005

In almost every news story or political commentary show aired of late, the same lie has been consistently repeated: that the majority of the Israeli people were in favor of the Disengagement Plan. In truth, every time the question of ceding to the Arabs those areas of Judea, Samaria and Gaza settled by Israelis was made a central issue in any authoritative vote, the Israeli people, or any part thereof, actually rejected the proposal.

Prior to 1993, Yitzchak Rabin campaigned on two basic points: no talking with the PLO, and "Whoever considers descending from the Golan Heights is abandoning - abandoning - the security of the State of Israel." (I know that latter quote by heart because it was featured in a campaign by Golan residents against descending from the Golan Heights, as proposed by Rabin\'s party.) Rabin won the premiership from Yitzchak Shamir, who had allowed PLO representatives to be seated under the aegis of the Jordanian delegation during multilateral talks in Madrid.


The Oslo Accords then followed, passed through the Knesset only thanks to two Knesset members who defected from a now-defunct far-right party, Tzomet.  These delegates were literally bought off at taxpayers\' expense, giving Rabin a one-vote majority for the single most far-reaching decision adopted by the Israeli parliament. In effect, the last twelve years of history in the Jewish State were determined by a majority dependent on ideological turncoats and on Arab, anti-Zionist representatives.


At a conference at Bar-Ilan University in 1994, the year of the official implementation of the Oslo Accords, former Justice Minister Yossi Beilin was asked why he and the Left had not informed the Israeli people of the negotiations with Yasser Arafat\'s PLO. Beilin, one of the key architects of the agreement, forthrightly replied: "We kept it a secret because they would have stopped us."


Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin went on to dismiss opponents to the accords with Yasser Arafat as "propellers" that can spin and spin without getting anywhere. As the implementation of the Oslo Accords proceeded, Rabin lost public support. Then-Likud party opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu spoke again and again against territorial concessions, warning against the "establishment of a terrorist Palestinian state next to our heartland." 1995 public opinion polls showed Netanyahu defeating Rabin in elections for prime minister.


And then, Rabin was assassinated.


Shimon Peres, who took over the reins of power in the wake of the murder, called for new elections when it became clear that Netanyahu\'s popularity had declined considerably in the aftermath of the assassination. But the decline did not help Peres, and Netanyahu was elected prime minister. Peres, in an interview with Ha’aretz after his defeat, said, "We lost."


"And who won?" the interviewer asked.


Peres: "Call it the Jews."


After three years, Netanyahu was also forced to call early elections. His Labor party opponent, Ehud Barak, ran on a campaign of separation from the Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Ironically, he adopted a slogan of the far-right Moledet party, which advocates the transfer of Arabs to achieve the same end, "Us, here. Them, there." Within a year, Barak put forward a proposal to relinquish 98 percent of the land of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, to divide sovereignty over Israel\'s capital, and to offer the PLO 2 percent more land in pre-1967 Israel.


Arafat reacted to the proposal with the massive assault that became known as the Oslo War, or the Second Intifada. Israeli casualties from terrorism, already higher than they were before the Oslo Accords, skyrocketed.


Early elections were again called. Ariel Sharon ran at the head of the Likud and defeated Barak. Conceding to Sharon in February 2001, Barak said, "[My policy vis-a-vis the Arabs] requires a heart-rending sacrifice, and it could be that the nation is not yet ready for it...."


By the end of 2002, new elections were called again. This time, Sharon opposed the newly-chosen Labor party leader Amram Mitzna, a former mayor of Haifa. Mitzna\'s campaign focused on the promise of a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and the destruction of Jewish towns there. Appearing on the Politika talk-show on November 27, 2002, Mitzna promised to "disengage" from Judea, Samaria and Gaza areas if elected. Within a year of the election, he said, he would withdraw Israel from Gaza, uprooting all Jewish communities there, and begin the process of uprooting "isolated settlements" elsewhere.


Reacting to the Mitzna campaign, Ariel Sharon stated publicly on multiple occasions that unilateral withdrawal was both dangerous and un-Zionist. On April 23, 2002, addressing a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee, he repeated, again, "The fate of Netzarim is the fate of Negba [a Negev town] and Tel Aviv." He would not be uprooting any communities, he declared, including "isolated" ones. For good measure, Sharon further explained, "Such an evacuation would encourage terrorism and bring pressure on us."


The Likud platform, likewise, read: "The Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are the realization of Zionist values. Settlement of the land is a clear _expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and constitutes an important asset in the defense of the vital interests of the State of Israel. The Likud will continue to strengthen and develop these communities and will prevent their uprooting."


In January of 2003, voters sent Mitzna and the Labor party as a whole to an unprecedented defeat. Ariel Sharon\'s Likud won more seats than it had ever won before.


By the end of 2003, however, safely ensconced in the prime minister\'s chair, Sharon began making comments to the effect that it was "obvious that in the end, we will not be in all the places we are now." Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert telegraphed Sharon\'s transformation in early December when he told Yediot Acharonot that he favored a unilateral withdrawal from most of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, implying that he would uproot and dismantle all but the largest "settlement blocs".


Shortly thereafter, unconfirmed reports began to appear to the effect that Sharon had been conducting high-level consultations towards the removal of the Gaza community of Netzarim. But even then, he supposedly planned to replace the civilian residents of the community with IDF troops, not to relinquish the land to the PLO. Evidently, he subsequently altered his position. Reports from December 16 quoted the prime minister as telling closed forums, "It\'s clear that we won\'t be able to remain in Gaza forever."


Sharon finally dropped the bombshell publicly at a lecture in Herzliya on December 18, 2003. And his proposal had a name: the Disengagement Plan (sound familiar, Mitzna?).


The Likud members were furious. A demand for a membership-wide referendum in the Likud was pushed through in 2004. Despite initial opposition, after polls showed the Disengagement Plan handily passing in the referendum, Sharon announced that he would abide by the results. On May 3, 2004, the final results of the referendum were tabulated: 59.5 percent opposed to Sharon\'s policy, while 39.7 percent supported the Disengagement Plan. Sharon ignored the results, fired right-wing ministers opposed to Disengagement and entered a coalition with the electorally crushed Labor party.


On September 6, 2004, former senior Labor figure Uzi Baram commented, "Sharon\'s behavior is scandalous; there is no other word. He went to the Likud referendum and promised the nation that he would abide by its results; then he went to the Likud Central Committee and was defeated there as well; and yet he continues along his merry way. I may be personally in favor of his position, but my democratic sense totally opposes it."


Many of Israel’s leading statesmen, having seen that Likud mechanisms made no impression on Sharon, next called for a nationwide referendum on the prime minister\'s plan. Sharon, and his Labor allies, rejected the idea. In September 2004, Israel\'s Channel Two television news reported that the prime minister\'s office opposed a national referendum because the Disengagement Plan might lose.


So, after all that, on what evidence do Israeli "experts", leftist politicians and news reporters now rely for their confident, unchallenged claims that "the majority supports Disengagement"? Opinion polls:  the same reliable barometers that foresaw Shimon Peres winning the 1996 elections and that predicted the Likud electorate overwhelmingly supporting Disengagement.


But if the subject is polls, here are some results of which the pundits never heard.


In February of this year, over 500 respondents were asked whether they "prefer the \'Sharon/Peres Disengagement Plan,\' which stipulates the transfer of Gaza and northern Samaria to Palestinian control and the expulsion of all Jews who live there" – or do they "prefer a plan known as the \'Jewish Alternative Disengagement Plan,\' which includes the Israeli annexation of these territories and the expulsion of the Arabs living there to an area outside Israel." The results showed that 39 percent supported Sharon\'s plan to transfer Jews and 31 percent supported the plan to transfer Arabs. The poll was conducted by Mutagim, a major Israeli polling agency, and commissioned by Mishalot Yisrael, which has been conducting its own independent "referendum" on the streets of Israel.


In June, representatives of the respected US web site World Net Daily monitored a Mishalot Yisrael polling station outside Jerusalem\'s central bus station. After three hours, WND correspondent Aaron Klein reported that nine ballots favored evacuating Jews, while 798 were in favor of evacuating Arabs.