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Rice Calls for Pressure to Force Arafat's Resignation


U.S. National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice called for world pressure to force Yasir Arafat to step down. In an address before an AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) audience, Rice stated, "People are going to have to draw together and say to Yasir Arafat, 'All right, the game is up. You really need to do the things you agreed to.'"

Knesset Approves Plan to Dismantle Jewish Settlements in Gaza

By Larry James (VOA-Jerusalem), &

The Knesset approved the Gaza Disengagement Plan: 67 in favor; 45 against; 7 abstentions. While the plan had been expected to pass all along, there were some last minute tensions - the result of power play attempts by Ministers Binyamin Netanyahu and Limor Livnat who sought to present Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with an ultimatum during the last hour before the vote.

Netanyahu and Livnat were planning, according to reports, to threaten to vote against Sharon's plan unless the Prime Minister would agree on the spot to hold a national referendum on the withdrawal plan. Sharon refused even to meet with them, taking his seat in the Knesset plenum 15 minutes before the planned vote in a demonstrative show that he had no desire to engage in last-minute negotiations.

While Netanyahu and Livnat were attempting to present their ultimatum, Minister Zevulun Orlev of the National Religious Party (NRP) came out with a 14-day ultimatum of his own. He said that the four members of the NRP who still support the government would quit the coalition in 14 days unless Sharon agrees to hold a national referendum of the expulsion of the Jewish presence in Gaza. On the other hand, if Sharon would agree, the NRP would promise not to quit the government at all.

When the votes were counted Sharon had the victory he had sought, with 67 votes for, 45 against and seven abstentions. The Knesset has 120 members but one was absent due to illness. Nearly half of 40 lawmakers from Sharon's Likud party voted against the plan, and two religious parties the prime minister had courted to be part of a new coalition government, cast their votes against it.

The withdrawal plan has bitterly divided Israel, and saw the transformation of Sharon from the settlers' biggest proponent to their most powerful political enemy. As recently as early 2003, Sharon called the Gaza settlements an essential part of Israel. But after four years of devastating violence in the region, Sharon changed course saying the continued occupation of Gaza, where some 8,000 Jewish settlers live amid 1.3 million Palestinians, is untenable.

Tuesday's vote was only the first of several required before the plan can be implemented next year but it marks the first time parliament has approved the dismantling of Jewish settlements in Gaza or the West Bank. Sharon said his plan would boost Israel's security and would blunt international criticism of Israel. Palestinians say it would strengthen Israel's hold over large parts of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, lands Palestinians claim for a future state.

Likud loyalists who oppose the plan were extremely disappointed by Netanyahu and Livnat who absented themselves from the first vote but did appear in time to cast their votes in favor of the plan in time for the second polling of legislators. While the two explained repeatedly during recent days that they remain adamantly opposed to the plan, and favor a national referendum, ultimately they did raise their hands in favor of uprooting Jews from their homes and handing over portions of the Land of Israel to the PA.

Likud platform loyalist Minister Dr. Uzi Landau remained true to his position and voted against the plan along with party Deputy Minister Michael Ratzon, both well aware that letters of dismissal await them. Indeed, Landau was invited into the Prime Minister's office at 9:15 p.m. and he was fired. Previously, Landau told the media that if the prime minister made good on his threat and dismisses him, he would continue his battle against forfeiting portions of the Land of Israel from his seat as a member of Knesset instead of being a cabinet minister.

Likud Minister Yisrael Katz, a member of the "Likud loyalists" voted in favor of the plan along with Netanyahu and Livnat rather than face an immediate letter of dismissal from the prime minister. This was also the case with Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, who while he opposes the plan never indicated he would vote against it. Likud Minister Danny Naveh, who during the past hours also indicated he may oppose the plan, absented himself from the first polling but ultimately voted in favor of the plan.

The Arab Knesset members who indicated they would oppose the plan appeared for the second polling and voted for the plan rather than join the ranks of the right wing that voted against it. Other Arab legislators comprised six of the seven abstentions.

Likud MK Eli Aflalo was brought to the Knesset in an ambulance following a surgical procedure to vote in favor of the plan. Visibly weak and expending great physical effort to leave his hospital bed, Aflalo announced that now was the time to come out in support of the prime minister's efforts. Former Shinui minister, MK Yehudit Naot, was not present due to illness. Illness also compelled her to step down from her cabinet post.

The Plan´s Security Dangers


A report circulated in the Knesset said "The public debate about the disengagement has concentrated mostly on settlement issues - but the fact is that it will actually increase terrorism..

"The public debate about the disengagement plan has concentrated mostly on the settlement issues, and has largely ignored the security issues - but the plain fact is that the plan will actually increase terrorism." So said IDF Col. (res.) Meir Indor, who prepared a paper on the dangers of the withdrawal and has circulated it amongst the 120 MKs.

According to the disengagement plan, Egypt, Jordan and the CIA would re-train and rehabilitate the terrorist armies, including Arafat's Force 17, that were badly affected by the fighting with Israel. The terrorists would be provided training in various combat situations, would be allowed to re-arm, will be given free mobility in wider areas than before, and would be restored to combat-ready status."

The disengagement plan states clearly, "Israel agrees that consulting, aid and guidance will be given to the Palestinian security forces in order to fight terrorism and maintain order, by Americans, British, Egyptians, Jordanians and other experts."

Indor told Arutz-7 Tuesday that he was astonished to find that even Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz was not aware of some of these facts. "I asked him why he was promoting a plan that called for the retraining of Arab terrorists, and he said he didn't know what I was talking about."

Other excerpts from the document: "Three million Arabs - known as "Palestinian refugees" - will be on their way to Judea and Samaria from Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and elsewhere. They will settle in the PA-controlled cities and villages, including the mountains that overlook Israel's coastal plane - Netanya, Kfar Saba and Israel's most densely populated areas. They will all receive economic assistance from the European Union, encouraging them to arrive. The disengagement plan states, "It is clear that a realistic, agreed-upon and fair framework for the refugees issue will be found via the establishment of a Palestinian state and the settlement of the refugees there."

* Most of the military checkpoints in Judea and Samaria will be removed. Israeli security activity in Bethlehem, Tul Karem, Shechem and elsewhere will be reduced, and the vacuum will be filled by terrorists - just as occurred in Hebron. The disengagement plan states, "In accordance with the circumstances, Israel will consider reducing its activities in the PA cities... Israel will act to reduce the number of checkpoints throughout Yesha." Some 65 checkpoints have already been removed, and were not restored even after the double bus bombing in Be'er Sheva (16 killed) - which was perpetrated by terrorists who arrived along the checkpoint-reduced southern Hebron highway.

* The plan states that the construction of an Arab airport and seaport in Gaza will be considered - despite the long-held objections to such by Israeli security elements for many years. Sharon himself said, "Who will check the large containers that arrive there?"

* The plan also states that Arab workers from Gaza will continue to enter pre-1967 Israel, that the PA will receive territorial contiguity in northern Shomron, and that implementation of the plan will negate the claims that Israel is "responsible for the Palestinians in Gaza" - something that recent developments have shown to be untrue.

Commander Implicated in Death of Palestinian Girl Arrested

By Ha'aretz

Military Police have arrested a Givati Brigade company commander on suspicion he shot dead a 13-year-old Palestinian girl at close range, after she had already been shot by troops and was lying on the ground.

The commander of the elite brigade, known only to the media as Captain R., has already been suspended from his position. He will be brought before a judge within two days. The event happened on October 5, when the girl, Iman Alhamas, was shot by soldiers from the Givati Brigade near the IDF Girit outpost near Tel el-Sultan in western Rafah, in the Gaza Strip.

The army's explanation of the incident was that the soldiers who initially fired believed the girl to be a terrorist, and that her school bag contained explosives. The bag was later discovered to have held only schoolbooks. The military decided to investigate the shooting after soldiers reported their company commander shot the girl at close range while attempting to perform a "confirmed kill." Relations between several soldiers and the commander were strained even before the incident.

The IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya'alon, approved the decision to suspend Captain R. from his position several weeks ago, although Ya'alon decided that at that stage the soldiers' reports were still unproven. Ya'alon announced that he had not found "an ethical problem" in the conduct of the company commander and soldiers involved in the incident, because it had not been shown that there had been a "confirmed kill."

Still, problems in the commander's judgment during the incident were uncovered - such as his decision to leave the position in spite of a warning that there was a danger of snipers in the area. These problems were the official reason for suspending the commander. Military sources report that after the suspension, there is little chance that R. will return to his former job.

Shamir Family Asks State to Fund Ex-PM's Stay in Nursing Home

By Ha'aretz

The Knesset Subcommittee for the Benefits of Former Prime Ministers and Presidents is expected to turn down a request by the family of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, 89, to pay for his stay in a nursing home due to his deteriorating health.

The subcommittee will allow the family's attorney to present his arguments in person before it makes a final decision on the matter. Subcommittee members have criticized the Shamir family's request, arguing that granting it would force them to respond to similar demands by past prime ministers, ministers and MKs. Others stated that if Shamir's or his family's financial situation prevented Shamir's admission to the nursing home, it would be reasonable to make the payments, but that all evidence suggests this is not the case. They also emphasized that given the passage of the National Health Insurance Law, there is no reason that a prime minister, worthy as he may be, should be treated differently than an ordinary citizen.

During a committee session on Tuesday afternoon devoted to discussion of Knesset expenditures, attorney Ana Shneider stated that Shamir does not have the right to receive a refund for medical expenses, since the rights of former prime ministers, ministers, and MKs to receive state funding for medical expenses and hospital admissions were cancelled in 1986. In her opinion, only former presidents had a right to state financing for such expenses.

Shamir's family had appealed to the Knesset chairman, Likud MK Reuven Rivlin, several months ago. He transferred their request to the committee. Labor MK Shimon Peres, the opposition leader and a former prime minister, has recently also asked Rivlin to find a solution to Shamir's problem.

IDF Permits Publication of Report on Yom Kippur War

By Ha'aretz

The Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya'alon, has agreed to permit the publication of a classified IDF investigation about the Yom Kippur War. Ya'alon announced on Monday that once research was completed, the report would be available to military authorities, as well as to academic and media outlets.

The original investigation of the 1973 war was completed in 1992, and kept confidential. Later, the army lowered the report's security classification and considered publishing it openly, but the decision was delayed by opposition from some officers who held senior positions during the war. Talk of releasing the report was renewed in October 2003, the 30-year anniversary of the war, after several newspapers revealed the public's desire to see the full report published.

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