New York – Natan Sharansky, Israeli Minister of Diaspora Affairs and Jerusalem, today resigned from the cabinet of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to protest his strong opposition to the Gaza withdrawal plan. The Sharon/Peres Gaza Withdrawal Plan will hand over the Jewish section of Gaza to the Palestinians (this is only 12% of Gaza – the other 88%, where almost all the Palestinian Arabs live, was given away by Prime Minister Rabin in 1994). They will remove, by force if necessary, the 9000 Jewish men, women, and children who live there while allowing the 2000 Arabs in this area to remain. Israel will also be leaving behind schools, libraries, synagogues, farms, greenhouses, and manufacturing plants.
In a refreshing display of principle by a politician, Sharansky said that he is resigning because “I oppose the disengagement plan which is a tragic mistake that will exacerbate the conflict with the Palestinians, increase terrorism, and dim the prospects of forging a genuine peace. All my experience and my understanding says that the plan is wrong. I also oppose the Gaza Plan because it will weaken the prospects for building a free Palestinian society while at the same time strengthening the forces of terror.”
Sharansky asked whether “our departure from Gaza will encourage building a society where freedom of speech is protected, where independent courts protect individual rights will our departure from Gaza end incitement in the Palestinian media or hate-filled indoctrination in Palestinian schools or result in the dismantling of terror groups Clearly, the answer to these questions is no. The guiding principle behind the disengagement plan is based on the illusion that by leaving Gaza, we will leave the problems of Gaza behind us
“Alongside my concerns, about the dangers entailed in a unilateral disengagement from Gaza, I am even more concerned about how the government’s approach to disengagement is dividing Israeli society. We are heading toward a terrible rift in the nation and to my great chagrin; I feel that the government is making no serious effort to prevent it.
“As minister I share collective responsibility for every government decision. Now when the disengagement plan is in the beginning of its implementation stages and all government institutions are exclusively focused on this process, I no longer feel that I can faithfully serve in a government whose central policy — indeed, sole raison d’etre has become one to which I am so adamantly opposed. The shape of the current government with the participation of the leftist Labor party and the support of other left-wing opposition parties is intended only to carry out the Gaza Plan the only real reason for the government’s existence now is disengagement to the exclusion of almost all other business.”
In addition, Sharansky said that he “wants international aid linked to the promotion of a free Palestinian press and economy, new school textbooks and that do not promote anti-Semitic or anti-Israel themes, and the dismantling of terror organizations this is not a story about good and bad guys, but about good and bad societies.”
Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein said, “the ZOA deeply respects the fact that Minister Sharansky is taking this action on the basis of principle. In fact, since he is not a member of the Knesset, he will now be without a political position.
“Sharansky is not alone in his view that this Gaza withdrawal plan is a tragedy from the perspective of rewarding terror as well as the humanitarian disaster of forcibly uprooting 9000 Jews from the Jewish section of Gaza. Prominent voices such as outgoing Chief of the IDF General Moshe Ya’alon; Director of Shin Bet Avi Dichter; Chief of Military Intelligence Ari Farkash; Speaker of the Knesset Reuven Rivlin; former Chair of Foreign Affairs and Defense Uzi Landau; former Defense & Foreign Affairs Minister Moshe Arens; former Deputy Chief of Military Intelligence Yaacov Amidror; and even Foreign Affairs Minister Silvan Shalom and Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; and many, many more agree with Natan Sharansky.”
“There have also been several rallies against this Plan which attracted over 200,000 Israelis each, while a pro-withdrawal rally drew only 5,000. And the only real people vote taken on this issue by the Likud members won by 60%-40%. The polls before this vote showed that the Plan would be supported by over 60% of the Likud members. So much for polls.
“It is also deeply disturbing to see that Hamas and other terrorist groups are having regular rallies saying this withdrawal proves that the “armed struggle” is effective. That’s why Hamas has gained so much political support lately among the Palestinian Arabs. In the international war against terror, Islamic terrorists must learn that they will not gain an inch from their horrific actions. To win this war against terror, we must make sure the radical Islamists’ agenda goes backwards — not forwards.
“We must never forget Winston Churchill’s warning, ‘those who appease the crocodile will simply be eaten last.'”