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Sunday, August 07, 2005 

Benjamin Netanyahu resigns as finance minister

It's now breaking news: the finance minister and former prime minister has handed in his letter of resignation over the expulsion plan of Ariel Sharon's. His words when resigning were:
"Record my resignation: Here's the letter," Netanyahu told the prime minister. The letter, quoted by Army Radio, contained severe criticism of the disengagement plan. "The moment of truth is here. I am not willing to collaborate with this process, which endangers the country's security," Netanyahu wrote.

"I had demanded that we keep the Philadelphi route [along the Gaza-Egypt border] to counter the impression that we are running away from terrorism. The government is ignoring the reality: Terrorism is continuing, the Hamas is growing stronger, terrorists will smuggle weapons from Gaza to the southern West Bank.

"I don't know when the terrorism will erupt in full force - my hope is that it won't ever. But I am convinced today that the disengagement will eventually aggravate terrorism instead of reducing it. The security establishment also expects an increase in terrorism," Netanyahu wrote. "The withdrawal endangers Israel's security, divides its people and set the standards of the withdrawal to the '67 border," the finance minister summed.
In a recent interview with Caroline Glick:
Will there be consequences from the opening of Gaza to the Sinai through the IDF's withdrawal from the Philadelphi corridor and from the opening of Gaza to the world through the operation of a seaport and an airport after the withdrawal?

Not only is Hamas getting stronger in front of our very eyes, and not only are they openly announcing that they will move their missiles from Gaza to Judea and Samaria in order to rain them onto the suburbs of Tel Aviv. There exists an additional problem of outside terrorists and deadly weapons far worse than what we have seen so far that are liable to stream in from the Sinai to Gaza the minute we abandon our control of the boundaries of the Strip.

Last week, OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Dan Harel told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Israel's security control of the Philadelphi corridor is unnecessary if Israel is enabling the construction and operation of a seaport and an airport in Gaza.

I think that there is a lot to that statement. We have to maintain complete control of the external boundaries of Gaza. I am aware that there are real difficulties in maintaining control of the Philadelphi corridor. There is a price for doing so after the withdrawal. But the price of leaving it is inestimably greater. Tuesday we heard al-Qaida's announcement that they are opening an al-Qaida Gaza branch. Today it's on the Internet. Tomorrow they will enact this in the field. And if that isn't enough, opening a seaport, together with the abandonment of the Philadelphi corridor, will create a highway for the transfer of terrorists and terror materiel.

Now, apropos the port, the first time the prime minister told me about the disengagement plan, I told him that one of the things he has to do, no matter what, is ensure that we maintain control over the external boundaries over the land, sea and air passages. Everyone remembers the Karine A [the weapons ship the Palestinian Authority purchased from Iran, that Israeli naval commandos intercepted in the Red Sea in January 2002]. If that ship had managed to penetrate, it would have brought in arms that could have easily threatened Ashkelon and Ashdod. Now there will be a Karine A, Karine B, Karine C and Gaza will be transformed into a base for Islamic terrorism adjacent to the coast of the State of Israel.
His resignation is welcomed, as is his argument here, and it can pretty well be said that yes, it most certainly will cause damage to Sharon's already crumbling government.

And I will say in his favor that he did do very good job as finance minister, and that whether or not the mainstream press wants to credit him for that, it could certainly help to his credit.

Too bad that Yossi Beilin and Amir Peretz don't want to thank him for his efforts though:
Yahad leader Yossi Beilin said that Netanyahu's resignation was a small step for Netanyahu in his political zigzagging and a big step for the weaker sectors of Israeli society who paid a heavy price for his three years in office.

Histadrut Chairman Amir Peretz said that Netanyahu was using the disengagement as an excuse to avoid facing the report on poverty that is being printed Monday, "which will indict him for the gravest crimes committed against Israeli society," Peretz said. "His resignation is an admission that he has failed."
Not only are they obscuring the exact reasons for his resignation, they're limiting the argument, ever so hypocritically, to their own personal claims that he failed in finance. Right, go figure. And if there was any financial problems, did it ever occur to them that Sharon himself might've caused the problems with his expulsion nonsense, or that they themselves might've lent a hand to the slumps?

Update: here's an earlier article from April, where Israeli finance minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the Gaza pullout this week, following the failure of the vote on a public referendum:
"A pattern has been created of Israeli unilateral withdrawal, including the evacuation of settlements, without any tangible return from the other side," Netanyahu said in an address at the Jerusalem Conference, sounding at times more like an opposition leader than a senior member of the government.

He added that it would be hard to convince the Palestinians and the international community that the evacuation of the 21 Jewish settlements in Gaza and four isolated settlements in the northern West Bank was "the last move."

He said Israel should be working to retain control of about 70 percent of the West Bank. "A great portion of the territory, two-thirds or three-fourths of it, is empty of inhabitants but is filled with historic, strategic and security importance for us," he told his audience of religious Zionist leaders.

The Palestinian Authority wants to create a state on all of the West Bank, with east Jerusalem as its capital. The late Yasser Arafat rejected an offer by former prime minister Ehud Barak which would have given him more than 95 percent of the West Bank and half of Jerusalem.
While it's good that Netanyahu spoke up, it's a shame that he couldn't have done so sooner, since who knows, maybe that could've helped chances for authorizing a public referendum. I will say that now that he has spoken out, that is good, but even so, it helps much more to do so as early as possible.

Other web reports on the subject include: Israel National News, Israpundit, Powerline Blog, Cosmic X, The Israel Reporter, Galilee Blog, One Jerusalem (plus, here's another one).

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