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150,000 say ‘Let the people decide’ (JERUSALEM NEWSWIRE) Editorial Staff 01/31/05)Source: http://www.jnewswire.com/library/article.php?articleid=420 JERUSALEM NEWSWIRE JERUSALEM NEWSWIRE Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
JERUSALEM - As many as 150,000 Israeli Jews gathered opposite the Knesset Sunday evening to demand Prime Minister Ariel Sharon allow the nation to decide whether or not to surrender parts of their God- given homeland to their Arab enemies.

They were protesting Sharon’s plan to forcibly expel and transfer the Jewish residents of the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria in an effort to allay Western diplomatic pressure and gain a reprieve from “Palestinian” terror.

But while all those in attendance oppose Sharon’s plan, they insist they would reluctantly go along with it if the prime minister would conduct himself in a democratic manner and hold a national referendum.

Sharon, however, has repeatedly refused to consider a national poll, maintaining that those who fight against his laws are harming democracy.

"There is one ´refuser´ of democracy – Ariel Sharon,” bellowed National Religious Party chief Effi Eitam from the podium, referencing Sharon’s attack on those calling for IDF soldiers to refuse orders to uproot Jews.

“We will not stand for this dictatorship, we will not rob the nation of the right to decide. There is one man who is refusing to hear the voice of the nation. We are saying to you from here, Ariel Sharon, you do not have a mandate to evacuate Jews,” he said.

Eitam’s statement touched the heart of the matter for many who elected Sharon to office – his unexpected flip-flop from defender of Jewish rights in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, to prime advocate of retreat.

During his campaign prior to the 2003 election, Sharon vehemently attacked the pro-retreat platform of his opponent, Labor Party leader Amram Mitzna. Sharon’s landslide victory was seen as much as a rejection of Labor’s policies as it was a vote for the old general.

At the time, Sharon told voters the Jewish communities of Gaza were Israel’s frontline against Arab aggression, and that to abandon them would be the same as abandoning Tel Aviv.

If Sharon does not now go back to the people for a fresh mandate endorsing his new leftist policies, the nation could slip into civil war, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom warned last week.

But instead of turning to the people, the media and parts of Sharon’s government have embarked on a campaign of de-legitimization against the settlers and their supporters.

“There never has been an Israeli government that has incited against the right wing and [settlers] like this government,” Likud MK David Levy told Sunday’s rally.

The mass gathering, one of the largest in the nation’s history, was planned to continue until Monday afternoon. It was held at the site of an anti-retreat sit-in demonstration currently in its fourth week. (Copyright 2002-2005 Jerusalem Newswire. 01/31/05)

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