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Settlers dismantle anti-disengagement protest tent (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Nadav Shragai 02/04/05)Source: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/536027.html HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
The protest tent opposite the Prime Minister´s Office was dismantled this week after a month of being manned round the clock by disengagement opponents, but settlers plan to replace it with smaller protest tents in cities throughout the country.

Three such tents are already up, in Netanya, Petah Tikva and the Golani Junction. Others are planned for Tel Aviv and the south. They will be run by a group called The Right´s Municipal Headquarters, which has activists in some 100 towns. This group also handled most of the right´s street protests against the Oslo Accords.

The main protest tent was taken down because occupancy has been sparse over the past few days.

Another group that is entering the fray comprises members of the working settlement movement, the Labor Zionist movement that set up most of the pre-state agricultural settlements. Movement activists from Nahalal, Ein Harod, Kinneret, Tel Adashim, Alon Hagalil and Kfar Yehoshua are planning a conference in Nahalal in 10 days aimed at recruiting additional kibbutz and moshav members. Their advertisements urge "anyone with a human and national conference to come and raise his voice against the illegal and immoral attempt to uproot and destroy the Katif bloc and Northern Samaria." Activists Adi Lahavi of Kinneret and Ahuvya Tabenkin of Ein Harod explained that they fear Gush Katif is only the beginning, and will be followed by a withdrawal from the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Ultra-Orthodox activists have also joined the struggle, though so far in small numbers. Two weeks ago, dozens of Haredi yeshiva students from the Mir, Brisk and Ponevezh yeshivas visited Neveh Dekalim in Gaza; they then recruited fellow students to visit the protest tent in Jerusalem. The Chabad Movement has been active as well, and publicly urged its members to attend last Sunday´s mass demonstration in Jerusalem.

On the political front, lobbying efforts are focusing on the Likud and Haredi parties. MK Avraham Ravitz (United Torah Judaism) visited Gush Katif yesterday and surprised his hosts by announcing that he favors a referendum on the disengagement - though he stressed that he would have to clarify this position with his party´s spiritual mentor, Rabbi Shalom Elyashiv. MK Nissim Zeev of Shas, who attended Sunday´s demonstration, also pledged to seek the backing of his party´s spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, for a referendum.

Settler activists also said that MK Michael Eitan (Likud), who chairs the Knesset Constitution Committee, is considering adding a clause to the disengagement bill that his panel is now preparing to make the withdrawal conditional on a referendum.

Within the Likud, in addition to bolstering ties with the 13 "rebels" who have pledged to vote against the 2005 budget unless the government agrees to a referendum, activists are collecting signatures from hundreds of central committee members on a letter demanding that the committee convene to pass a resolution conditioning the disengagement on a referendum. Eliezer Hasdai, who is spearheading this operation, said he believes that pressure from the Likud, instead of other parties, is what ultimately will force Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to hold a referendum. (© Copyright 2005 Haaretz. 02/04/05)

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