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Last Updated: Monday, 9 February, 2004, 12:51 GMT
Israeli press questions Sharon moves

The Israeli Supreme Court has begun hearing a legal challenge to the separation barrier being constructed by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government in the West Bank.

Israeli officials have said the barrier's route could be altered - a move drawing sarcasm from one Israeli daily which questions Mr Sharon's reasons.

Other papers are divided in their reaction to the prime minister's suggestion last week that he might hold a referendum on his proposal to evacuate Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip.

Oops, there is another change. They did not build a security fence, they decided on a separation fence. Now it seems they are cancelling the enclaves and moving the route toward the Green Line. Suddenly the Gaza Strip ceased to be a security vantage point and we have a "relocation of settlements". Going for early elections, a binding plebiscite, a non-binding plebiscite. Progressing, then correcting, everything according to the checklist Washington sends before Sharon's visit [to the US]... What we have here is an updating of the government's top of the pops.

Yedi'ot Aharonot

If a plebiscite is held to approve the unilateral disengagement plan from Gaza I will vote against it. I'll do this with a heavy heart precisely because I support our total exit from the Strip. I'll vote against because this will not solve even one of our basic problems, it will not calm the security situation and there is no chance of Palestinian acceptance of the territorial solution we will be imposing on them... We must move ahead only within the framework of a political agreement.

Commentator Shlomo Gazit in Ma'ariv

The removal of Israeli civilians and soldiers from densely crowded, hostile districts in Gaza will bring about a welcome saving of human life and state resources. Contradicting the message of the Zionist prophets of dooms, the move would prove that there is still cause for hope that Israel can rectify the historic mistakes that threaten its vitality. By withdrawing from the Gaza Strip, Israel will prove that it has the strength and courage to dismantle settlements.


It is hard to comprehend how a man like Ariel Sharon surrenders to terrorism and wants to award it a prize by transferring Jews and demolishing their homes! While the whole Western world talks against surrendering to terror, he serves as a living example that it is worthwhile to engage in terrorism and persist in it because shaheeds [martyrs] and suicide bombers will be rewarded.


Sharon's disengagement plan... stems from the collapse of the defence establishment. Over the last few months the IDF [Israeli Defence Force], Shin Bet [Israel's security service] and border police commanders have been reporting that their forces are stretched to the limit... officers are warning that friction with Palestinians civilians at roadblocks and settlement outposts is eroding motivation and destroying the soldiers' morale.

Commentator Akiva Eldar in Ha'aretz

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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