The Knesset Passes Crucial Compensation Law For Gaza Withdrawal

Death Threats To Prime Minister Sharon As Withdrawal Plan Gathers Steam

Broadcast February 16th, 2005 on



The Knesset has passed the evacuation - compensation bill necessary to carry out Israelís withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements this summer. The vote was 59-40 with 5 abstentions. However, as the Prime Minister moves his evacuation plan forward, he may also be facing mounting death threats.

David Essing reports:

Knesset Vote

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has passed another milestone on his way to implementing his disengagement plan. The Knesset passed the bill to compensate the settlers to be relocated from Gaza and 4 West Bank settlements by a solid majority 59-40 with 5 abstentions. But as the withdrawal plan rolls on, there is mounting concern that Jewish fanatics might try and assassinate him in order to stop it.

The legislation sets up the mechanism to pay compensation to the 8,000 men, women and children who are to lose their homes and be relocated inside Israel. Many of the settler families are now expected to take the money and start building their lives elsewhere in the country. On Sunday, the cabinet is due to take a final vote on actually implementing the withdrawal. Two big Likud guns, Finance Minister Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Shalom oppose the withdrawal and could vote against; but even still, Sharon should be able to muster a majority.

Not everything is going Sharonís way. The ultra-orthodox Shas has announced it will not be joining the government. Shas demands that Finance Minister Netanyahu restore the slashes he has made to child allowances. Sharon wants Shas in the coalition to bolster support for the disengagement and the new state budget. The budget is perhaps the last thing that could block the withdrawal. If the Prime Minister cannot get it passed by the Knesset by the end of March, he would have to call an early election. Two other opposition parties Shinui and Yachad, which support the withdrawal, say they will not vote for the budget. As things now stand, Sharon still has work to do to muster a budget majority.

The odds are that the Prime Minister will pull it off and after todayís Knesset vote the withdrawal looks closer than ever. But so do threats to the Prime Minister. Sharon has said declared that heís not worried about his personal safety and he will not be intimidated. However, it cannot be denied that the whole withdrawal plan depends on Ariel Sharon; without his leadership it will probably come to a halt. Therefore, the danger is great.

David Essing, IsraCast, Jerusalem

Transcription done by Yael Yaffe-Last
Studio Production by Avi Yaffe Jerusalem Recording Studios LTD.

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