– The Cabinet voted 17-5 to approve the Disengagement Plan and the evacuation of four groups of communities.
– The Cabinet approved the revised route for the security fence – 20 ministers voted in favor, Minister Yisrael Katz voted against, Minister Natan Sharansky abstained.

 Cabinet approves Disengagement Plan and Security Fence route

 

PM Sharon signs order to implement disengagement (GPO)

Cabinet Communique
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 20 February 2005:

1. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made the following remarks at the start of the meeting: “Today, the Cabinet will both discuss the evacuation of the communities included in the Disengagement Plan and make a decision.  This will not be an easy day, nor will it be a happy day. The evacuation of communities from Gaza and northern Samaria is a very difficult step. It is difficult for the residents, for the citizens of Israel, for me and I am certain that it is difficult for the members of the Cabinet.  But this is a vital step for the future of the State of Israel.”

2. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz discussed Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya’alon’s term as IDF Chief-of-Staff:

“On 9 July 2002, Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya’alon became the 17th IDF Chief-of-Staff for a three-year term that ends this July. Lt.-Gen. Ya’alon served under my command and we have known each other for many years. I believed then that Lt.-Gen. Ya’alon was the right man to lead the IDF and indeed, as Chief-of-Staff, he has led the IDF – along with the ISA and the Israel Police – to unprecedented achievements in the face of Palestinian terrorism; for this, he and the other IDF and security force commanders deserve great esteem.

The State of Israel is currently facing one of the most difficult and complicated missions in its history. The Disengagement Plan is a national mission, the likes of which we have not seen before; its implementation requires great sensitivity, determination and courage on the part of all ranks in all forces – in the diplomatic campaign, and for the IDF and the Israel Police. I believe that the realization of this plan, as well as what may be expected in its wake, will herald the dawning of a new period in our region. At the same time, we also face changes in both our internal and external environments – all of these herald a new period in which the IDF will have to adapt itself: in outlook, order-of-battle, organization and military structure.

Against this background, I believe that it is fitting that a new man and a new team should head the IDF at this time and lead it in the coming years, harmoniously and with unity of purpose in the face of the challenges that await it. Last week, I informed the Chief-of-Staff that I did not intend to recommend that his term be extended. I could have done so, according to custom, but when I took into account the overall situation, I preferred – as the one who bears the responsibility on behalf of the Government – to appoint a new Chief-of-Staff instead. It was clear to me that the decision not to extend the Chief-of-Staff’s term would not be a popular decision and that it would entail a wave of criticism. However, I decided to look past all of this, to not make considerations based on custom, and to see before me only the national missions currently facing the State of Israel.

As the Minister of Defense, I am obligated to the citizens of Israel to select the most appropriate people to carry out this tough and complicated mission, and I would be derelict in my obligation if I did otherwise. I absolutely object to the characterization of my decision as a dismissal. There is no dismissal; rather, there is a preference for national interest over custom. I am satisfied that I acted according to my obligation and my responsibility for the good of the IDF and the State of Israel.

In the coming days, I will announce a candidate to be the 18th Chief-of-Staff; I will submit his name for Cabinet approval. Given my longstanding personal acquaintance with the candidates to succeed Lt.-Gen. Ya’alon, I can safely say that both of them are familiar with the missions before us and will know how to carry out the office in the best way possible, in implementing the Disengagement Plan and in commanding the IDF and preparing it for future challenges.”

3. The Cabinet discussed the amended Disengagement Plan – the evacuation of communities and territories.  Prime Minister Sharon summarized the discussion as follows:

“The Government’s decision is important and vital for the State of Israel. From the moment that today’s decision is made, all ministers and ministries are bound by it and must act to advance it. The decision that we will make today is that referred to in Article 22 of the law regarding the evacuation of each group of communities, which requires that the decision be made five months prior to the actual evacuation. It is in keeping with Minister Tzipi Livni’s compromise, as it was approved by the Cabinet on 6 June 2004, regarding groups of communities; before the evacuation of each group, the Cabinet will convene in order to discuss and see if circumstances have changed, and decide accordingly.

This is not an easy day. This is a tough decision, very tough for all of us. I know that there are ministers for whom today’s vote is an especially harsh decision. These are among Israel’s best people, who established regional enterprises under very harsh conditions and were steadfast for many years with uncommon heroism. I ask that ministers meet with them and I will invite them again. But the decision is a harsh one. There are times when leadership, determination and responsibility are called for, even if it doesn’t seem popular, even if the decision isn’t easy. We must remember that we are making this decision in order to advance the future of the State of Israel and I very much appreciate the ministers’ vote.”

In continuation of decision #1996 of 6 June 2004, and in accordance with Article 22a of the Disengagement Implementation Law, the Cabinet decided, in regard to each group of communities, as follows:

A) Regarding the communities in the first group:
i) To evacuate the communities included in the first group as defined in the aforementioned Cabinet decision (Morag, Netzarim and Kfar Darom);
ii) The Cabinet will reconvene shortly before the evacuation of the group, will discuss the then existing circumstances, and will decide whether or not the circumstances are such that they will affect the evacuation.

B) Regarding the second group of communities:
i) To evacuate the communities included in the first group as defined in the aforementioned Cabinet decision (Northern Samaria communities – Ganim, Kadim, Sa-nur and Homesh);
ii) The Cabinet will reconvene shortly before the evacuation of the group, will discuss the then existing circumstances, and will decide whether or not the circumstances are such that they will affect the evacuation.

C) Regarding the third group of communities:
i) To evacuate the communities included in the first group as defined in the aforementioned Cabinet decision (the communities in Gush Katif).
ii) The Cabinet will reconvene shortly before the evacuation of the group, will discuss the then existing circumstances, and will decide whether or not the circumstances are such that they will affect the evacuation.

D) Regarding the fourth group of communities:
i) To evacuate the communities included in the first group as defined in the aforementioned Cabinet decision (the Northern Gaza Strip communities – Elei Sinai, Dugit and Nisanit).
ii) The Cabinet will reconvene shortly before the evacuation of the group, will discuss the then existing circumstances, and will decide whether or not the circumstances are such that they will affect the evacuation.

E) In accordance with Article 22a of the 2005 Disengagement Plan Implementation Law, shortly after this decision is made, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense minister Shaul Mofaz will, in an order or orders, determine the territories to be evacuated and the date of evacuation.

F) The discussions referred to above will be held from time to time, as will be determined for each group and as per the evacuation process.

4. The Cabinet discussed the revised route that has been proposed for the security fence and decided, in continuation of its previous relevant decisions and in the wake of substantive considerations stemming from the relevant High Court of Justice rulings on the continuation of work to build the fence, as follows:

The Government views the continued construction of the security fence as important, as a means that has been proven effective in protecting the State of Israel and its residents, and in preventing the negative influence that a terrorist attack would be liable to have on the diplomatic process, while taking care to reduce, by as much as possible, its influence on Palestinians ’ daily lives, as per the High Court of Justice decision. In keeping with the foregoing:

A) The Cabinet approves the construction of the security fence for the prevention of terrorist attacks in accordance with the map appended to this decision. The map replaces and cancels the map that was appended to the 1 October 2003 Cabinet decision. The map appended to this decision is deposited with the Cabinet Secretariat.

B) The fence that is built in accordance with this decision, as well as the sections which have been already built, are a temporary security means for the prevention of terrorist attacks and do not express a diplomatic or any other border.

C) During the detailed planning, every effort will be made to reduce, by as much as possible, disturbances that are liable to be caused to Palestinians’ daily lives as a result of the construction of the fence.

D) Local changes in the route of the fence or in its construction that stem from the overall planning for the route or from the need to reduce disturbances to Palestinians’ proper daily lives, will be submitted to the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet for approval.

E) Prime Minister Sharon, Defense Minister Mofaz and Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will agree on the scope of the budget necessary to implement this decision and the concomitant financing.

F) Sections in the route that have yet to receive legal approval are subject to legal approval (the Western Samaria area, the Maaleh Adumim area and the Judean Desert). The construction of the security fence in accordance with previous decisions has proven its effectiveness in significantly reducing terrorist attacks. Completing the fence is vital to assuring the protection of the State of Israel and its residents. On 30 June 2004, the High Court of Justice handed down a decision that determined the parameters for building the barrier and emphasized the need to balance security needs with those of the Palestinian population. Following the decision, the IDF carried out staff work in cooperation with the Judea and Samaria Civil Administration and the Justice Ministry; all sections of the route were reconsidered in accordance with the parameters determined by the High Court of Justice. In the wake of this staff work, a revised route for the security fence, which will replace the route previously approved by the Cabinet, was submitted for Cabinet approval. Staff work on several sections of the route – in Western Samaria, in the vicinity of Maaleh Adumim and in the Judean Desert – has yet to be completed; this will take all of the relevant security, civilian and legal aspects into consideration.

PM Sharon & DM Mofaz sign orders implementing Disengagement Plan
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz this evening (Sunday), 20 February 2005, signed an order implementing the Disengagement Plan (Gaza Strip) and an order implementing the Disengagement Plan (Northern Samaria). The orders were signed in accordance with both the Disengagement Implementation Law and today’s Cabinet decision, and determine that the evacuation day will be 20 July 2005.