Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Arutz Sheva: Gaza Plan Approved By Knesset; 2-week Ultimatum Is Set
The Knesset approved the Gaza Disengagement Plan: 67 in favor; 45 against; 7 abstentions. After a last-minute Knesset drama in which senior Likud ministers absented themselves from the first round of voting, Ministers Netanyahu, Livnat, and Katz voted in favor of the Gaza Plan. Naveh absented himself from the Knesset plenum. The Arabs abstained in the vote.
Likud Minister Uzi Landau voted against the plan and is likely to receive tonight a letter of dismissal from the Prime Minister.
Minutes before the Knesset vote on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s Disengagement Plan, National Religious Party (NRP) Minister Zevulun Orlev came out of Sharon’s Office with a document, telling the press that the NRP has given Mr. Sharon 14 days to decide if he will hold a national referendum on the Gaza Disengagement Plan.
Orlev explained the terms of the NRP entail a stipulation that tonight’s Knesset vote on the plan would be contingent on the outcome of a national referendum. In addition, if the prime minister agrees to a referendum, the NRP commits to remain in the government coalition until the end of the administration’s term, which for now is 2006. This commitment is not contingent on the outcome of the referendum.
Should the prime minister fail to agree to a national referendum within the 14 day hiatus period, the NRP will then leave the government, a move that may plummet the coalition into a crisis that would lead to early elections. Orlev refused to describe his move this evening as “an ultimatum.”
The letter was signed by NRP officials, Yesha Council Rabbis Nachum Rabinowitz, Tzafanya Drori, Motti Elon, Eitan Eisman, Shabbtai Shabato, Shlomo Aviner, and Shar Yashuv HaCohen.
Prime Minister Sharon has said that he will present any minister who votes against his plan with a letter of dismissal.