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Jewish Settlers Vow Fight To The Death

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Jewish settlers vow fight to the death

 

Monday 21 February 2005, 16:52 Makka Time, 13:52 GMT

 

Jewish settlers have vowed to fight to the death after the israeli cabinet voted to withdraw from Gaza, endorsing prime minster Sharon's controversial plan.

 

Spokesman Pinhas Wallerstein who sits on the Yesha settler's council, a religious group, told reporters that colonists had to reconcile themselves to the fact that they were heading towards a serious rift in israel.

 

"This is a dire and complex situation, and I hope that we have the emotional ability to stand and face this reality. Even at the cost of people's lives and of my life, we won't let the evacuation be implemented."

 

israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's cabinet voted by 17 to five at a marathon session on Sunday to begin removing the 8000 settlers of Gaza from 20 July, in what will be the first ever israeli withdrawal from occupied Palestinian territory.

 

"(Talmudic law)establishes that a king who acts against the Torah is not to be heeded"

 

Yesha settlers council statement

 

The vote also sounds the death knell for four illegal settlements in the West Bank as part of a wider disengagement plan which Sharon hopes will reduce pressure on israel to conduct a more comprehensive pullout from the West Bank.

 

Meanwhile, the Palestinian parliament was due to make a symbolic break from the past by voting on the first cabinet of the post-Yasser Arafat era.

 

Vital for future

 

While Sharon insisted that the pullout was vital to the future of the state, the settler leadership said that the argument was far from over.

 

The committee of settler rabbis also argued that the government's decision was invalid as it contravenes the Torah.

 

"Halacha (Talmudic law) establishes that a king who acts against the Torah is not to be heeded," the organisation said in a statement.

 

"Therefore, anyone who causes a rift and who is not sensitive to the Torah is responsible for the grave consequences."

 

In a speech after the vote, Sharon said the decision was the hardest of his entire career.

 

Sharon's tough decision

 

"But there are moments which demand leadership and responsibility for decisions to be made even if they are unpopular," Sharon said.

 

"As prime minister, I must look at the whole situation and I believe the disengagement plan will reinforce the Jewish character of israel, improve its economic prospects and our international standing as well as relaunching the process to find a political solution" with the Palestinians, he added.

 

While Sharon completely snubbed the late Palestinian Authority and his arch enemy Arafat, the israeli leader has been willing to negotiate with Arafat's successor Mahmud Abbas.

 

As part of an agreement reached at the landmark summit between Abbas and Sharon in Egypt earlier this month, 500 Palestinian prisoners were released from israeli custody on Monday morning.

 

ATP (from AlJazeera)

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