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Sunday, January 11, 2004

The People of Israel are not ready to surrender

AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis

DEBKA: More than 100,000 attended demonstration in Tel Aviv Sunday night against Sharon's unilateral disengagement plan, and evacuation of outposts and settlements

Arutz Sheva: “The people of Israel are not ready to surrender” is the message being broadcast across the world from Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square.

Channel 2 TV News reports 75,000 persons are in attendance. Yesha Council spokesperson Yehoshua Mor-Yosef reported over 100,000 and Ynet is reporting 120,000 people strong.

Minister of Housing Effie Eitam (NRP) issued an emotion filled plea to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. “Arik,” said Eitam from the podium, “we, your friends are here to strengthen you. We know that the last watch before dawn is always the toughest – but the morning is almost here. We are witnessing the success of our war against the enemy and you wish to hand him victory? Is this the time to surrender and flea the battlefield – in the middle of combat?

“We were with you in battle, Arik . . . We are with you in this battle for our roads, cities and homes. But we will not cooperate in the destruction of Jewish communities – we will not cooperate in expelling a single Jew from their home!”

JTA: Effi Eitam, head of the National Religious Party and Sharon's housing minister, vowed to pull his party out of the government should Sharon follow through on his plan to dismantle settlements. “We returned to this land to build it, love it, and defend it. With the help of G-d, we will be victorious,” he said. “We will stand up to any challenge.” The crowd roared its approval.

Young settlers dance during a demonstration in Tel Aviv's Yitzhak Rabin
Square January 11, 2004. Tens of thousands of people protested in Israel
on Sunday against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan that would mean
moving some Jewish settlers from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, witnesses
[the photographer wasn't there, so had to rely on witnesses?]. The rally
was the biggest show of force by the pro-settler movement since Sharon
revealed a scheme late last year for unilateral steps to separate from
the Palestinians if a U.S.-backed peace plan fails. REUTERS/Havakuk Levison

REUTERS/Havakuk Levison

REUTERS/Havakuk Levison

REUTERS/Havakuk Levison

Thousands of protesters demonstrate at a rally in Tel Aviv's Rabin
Square Sunday, Jan. 11, 2004 against possible evacuation of the
Jewish settlements. Several dozens of thousands of people
participated in a right-wing demonstration organized by right-wing
movements to protest Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government
planned evacuation of settlement outposts . . . (AP Photo/ Ariel Schalit)
UPDATE: Arutz Sheva is now saying that police reports estimated 250,000 people attending the rally. Monday, the estimate is 150,000.

In Sharon vs. settlers, winner takes all
It would be hard to exaggerate how fateful, how historic is the drama about to begin at the settlement outposts.

Here's where things stand: Within a few months we will pretty well know if Israel's 36-year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is on its way out, or here to stay.

Ariel Sharon, backed by a large majority of the public, has pledged to send the IDF to take down not only dozens of outposts, but at least a few established settlements as well. The settlers, backed by the hardline Right, have vowed to stop them.

Inside a few months - this being the time frame Sharon cited in his Herzliya speech for carrying out the "disengagement plan" - one side will win and the other will lose.
Read the rest, by Larry Derfner, Cleveland Jewish News. I think he's right that "if Sharon can't break the settlers, nobody can," and that "it's going to be an awful fight." But I disagree that the settlers are inflicting damage on Israel. They may very well be saving it.