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Friday, April 30, 2004

These guys will get the houses and farms of the Jews in Gaza?

Masked Fatah militants show their support to
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat during a rally
in Gaza City.(AFP/Mohammed Abed)

Sharon's Party May Reject Plan:

MALEH ADUMIM, West Bank, April 29 -- Four separate public opinion surveys published Thursday reported growing opposition within the Likud Party of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to his plan to withdraw Jewish settlers and Israeli soldiers from the Gaza Strip.

A poll of Likud members published April 15 in the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper showed supporters of what Sharon has called his disengagement plan holding a 22 percentage-point lead over opponents.

But the polls published Thursday revealed a marked shift. A poll published by the same newspaper showed 47 percent of Likud members who were questioned opposed the plan and 39 percent favored it; one by Maariv, another daily paper, showed 45 percent opposed and 42 percent in favor; Israel Radio's poll had 47 percent against and 43 in favor; and the Haaretz newspaper's poll registered 43 percent against and 36 in favor.

The campaign against the initiative is being waged by such Likud activists as Gidon Ariel, working from his apartment here in the West Bank's largest Jewish settlement. He updates a database listing which party members support and oppose Sharon's plan -- while dozens of like-minded activists are pounding the pavement and working the phones, arguing, cajoling and pleading with party members to vote no.

Ariel said he and others began mobilizing against Sharon's plan from the moment it was announced, seeing it as a dangerous precedent that could lead to the abandonment of West Bank settlements. Others opposing the pullout said they feared that Palestinians would see the Gaza evacuation as proof that terrorism pays.

"It's the coercive expulsion of more than 7,000 people from their homes," Ariel said, referring to the Jewish settlers in Gaza, noting that some had lived there for 30 years.

Jewish children of Gaza help to make salad of Gush Katif produce