Alexander V. KRYLOV
Moscow State Institute of International Relations
In August 2005, implementation of Ariel Sharon's plan for unilateral disengagement with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which involved evacuation of army units and Jewish settlements from the region, was finished. For the first time in its history Israel agreed to tear down settlements located in Palestinian territories.
The progress of Sharon's plan was extremely difficult. In the May 2004 referendum of Likud supporters, almost 60% of members of the Prime Minister's party voted against parting with Gaza. Ariel Sharon even had to form a coalition with the opposition Labor Party (Avoda) since it was obvious that the Cabinet of Ministers in its former composition would vote the disengagement plan down. The five votes cast against leaving Gaza during the governmental voting came from Likud members, including Benjamin Netanyahu
(ex-Prime Minister, the then Finance Minister). Natan Sharansky, Minister of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, resigned in protest. Ephraim Eitam, Knesset member representing the National Religious Party (Mafdal), who had until recently headed the Ministry of Housing and Construction, even moved to an Israeli settlement in Gaza in an act of defiance.
Mass demonstrations against liquidation of Jewish settlements in Gaza rallied dozens of thousands of Israelis. One of these protest actions turned into a 90-km live chain from the Gush Katif roadblock to Jerusalem. The Council of Jewish settlements in Gaza and West Bank (Yesha) launched a large-scale civil disobedience campaign against Sharon's plan. In some settlements, Israeli soldiers had to use force against supporters of right and ultra-religious parties who would not accept withdrawal from Gaza.
Despite the protests, evacuation of Israeli army outposts and settlements from Gaza was conducted as scheduled. However, the prospects of complete realization of the Prime Minister's plan, which als ... Читать далее