ZOA Supports Israeli Foreign Minister Shalom And Knesset Speaker Rivlin’s Call For Referendum On Gaza Expulsion
February 14, 2005

New York – The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) applauds Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin’s call last night to hold a referendum on the issue of whether to expel 9000 Jews from the Jewish section of Gaza and giving their land and homes to the Palestinian leader and Holocaust denier Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority.

Joining Shalom and Rivlin’s call for a referendum last night was the left-wing leader of the Four Mothers Orna Shimoni, who successfully lobbied for Israel to leave southern Lebanon. Shimoni said, “Listen to the settlers, we are not paying enough attention to their pleas for a referendum that could prevent a civil war…The settlers sincerely believe they have been tricked, voting for Sharon who built their communities and then take the opposite road…the danger of a civil war is very serious…similarly in Judea and Samaria, and in the Golan, if there are peace agreements that are likely to bring about the painful demolition of more communities — another referendum will be required.”

The late Prime Minister Rabin would have agreed. On Israel Radio, Aug. 1, 1995, he said, “if we arrive at the possibility of signing a peace treaty with Syria which would require a significant withdrawal, a decision on this would be made in a national referendum. In other words, the people will decide on what it is prepared to give up. I do not see this as being subject only to a Knesset decision.”

Likud MK Chaim Katz said yesterday, “I anticipate that Sharon will think again and say, ‘I’ve made a mistake, and let’s see what the nation says about this plan — if only to keep our army in the consensus.’ Today we hear about 10,000 or 20,000 people who say they will refuse to carry out disengagement orders. He should say, ‘OK, we’ll have a quick referendum, and at worst, we’ll miss the target date by a month.'”

“We see that he does not have a majority,” Katz said. “We just saw how the compensation bill barely passed the Finance Committee, by the margin of just one vote by Arab MK Barakeh. Not just any vote, but a Barakeh vote. I have nothing against Arab Mks — but only if they represent the Arabs of Israel, if they work for their benefit in terms of education, infrastructures, and the like. But these Mks don’t represent these Arabs — they represent the Palestinians; they applaud terror attacks against us…”

ZOA President Morton A. Klein said, “Every Israeli poll taken has shown that between 55%-75% of Israelis support a referendum on the Gaza evacuation. In addition, there have been several rallies where 200,000 or more Israelis have demonstrated against the Gaza Plan, representing 4% of Israel’s five million Jews. (If 4% of Americans turned out for a demonstration, you’d have 12,000,000 people in the streets.) And, in addition to the Israeli Foreign Minister and Speaker of the Knesset, other major figures have spoken out against the Gaza plan — MK Natan Sharansky, Moshe Arens, and present and former leaders of the military and military intelligence. Yaacov Amidror, former deputy chief of military intelligence called it a ‘historical error.’

“With the citizens and leaders of Israel badly split over this controversial issue, the ZOA believes a referendum is required. But we hasten to add that Israel should follow the path of President DeGaulle of France when he demanded to have a referendum over whether or not to leave Algeria. DeGaulle said he would not leave Algeria if he received only a mediocre majority; a ‘massive majority’ would be required. He said this would not polarize the country. He did, in fact, receive a 78% majority. Israel should learn this important lesson from DeGaulle.”

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