As expected, the stormy debate over the evacuation of the settlements has given birth to a chaos of arguments and counter-arguments. This, therefore, is a modest attempt to create some order in the thicket of the debate and to examine the validity of the various arguments.

First, there appears to be much to the arguments made by the evacuation's opponents against the decision-making procedures taken for the move. The problem is not necessarily Sharon's deviation from his election platform - he spoke about "painful concessions" during the campaign - nor is his denial of the positions of the Likud rank and file, which is not really a national problem but rather an internal Likud problem.

The point is that an historic decision that involves uprooting thousands of people from their homes and destroying their life's work should be properly made on the issue, even if the plan for such a move was declared during an election campaign. A decision of that magnitude should not be made in a forum that represents only the coalition, but rather in a national forum - the Knesset or a referendum. And there certainly is no justification in starting the stages of evacuation, like paying compensation, before a decision is made about evacuation in the appropriate national forum.

The argument that the settlers are only interested in proper procedure to delay the evacuation is also not relevant. Making decisions with proper procedure is the heart and soul of democracy, even if at certain times "it serves the settlers'" interests. Those who don't remember that truth at difficult moments of decision are simply proving that their own political positions take precedence over their commitment to democracy.

Indeed, from the contents of the leaked conversation between the settler leadership and the defense minister, in which there was talk about a civil war, it turns out that the settler leadership said it would accept the results of a decision if it was democratically made. It is the current procedure that is granting legitimacy to the extremists who say that if the prime minister can defy every norm of behavior, so can they. Furthermore, the moral and political strength of moderate settlers to oppose the violent elements in their camp is paralyzed when the process is improper.

Nor is ridicule of the settlers' sudden commitment to democracy relevant. Because first of all, despite the cynicism, most settlement activity took place as a result of proper government decisions - even if those decisions began with public pressure by a minority on governments, pressure that is also part of the accepted rules of democracy. Regrettably, under-the-table budgets and other conventional "legal bypasses" took place in other contexts, like the ultra-Orthodox or the kibbutz movement in the past, and nobody argued that it was therefore justified to remove the ultra-Orthodox or the kibbutzniks from their homes.

And that leads to the main point. Even if the behavior of the settlers in the past included endless forms of circumventing democracy, there is no symmetry between creating a continuous and reversable policy and a one-time, irreversible process of uprooting settlements, and the necessity of the decision about that move being above reproach.

What is unacceptable in the position of the settlers is first of all their ultimatum for a decision by referendum. A referendum is a legitimate process, and I think it is indeed the most appropriate instrument for the issue at hand. But it is impossible to accept the argument that a parliamentary decision on the matter is illegitimate, when the settlements of Sinai were removed on the basis of a Knesset decision.

It can of course be argued that there has been a major change between Begin and Sharon in the moral level of those in power and the MKs, and that it is possible among the 120 MKs to find the necessary votes with forbidden measures, as proven by the vote for Oslo II. Therefore, the argument that a special majority be required for the approval is justified, but there can be no acceptance of any rejection of parliamentary legitimacy.

However, the most foul argument being made by the settler extremists, an argument that must be completely countered, is the one that essentially argues that no evacuation is legitimate, no matter what majority votes in favor, an argument implicit in the petition that termed the evacuation "a crime against humanity." If a state can send its citizens to be killed for the sake of the general common good, including to war or to very controversial operations, it certainly has the authority to demand that some of its citizens give up their homes for the sake of the common good.

Moreover, if a democratic decision is made for evacuation, it must be executed even at the cost of forcible clashes with violent opponents, even at the cost of bloodshed. A state cannot accept a situation in which a minority tries to dictate policy, or uses violence to divert the majority from their chosen direction.

A civil war is a faux scenario in Israel, because, thank heaven, there are no parallel armies involved. But a violent clash along the lines of the Altalena - though in this case it would involve two-way shooting - is definitely a realistic scenario. Maximum effort must be made to avoid that, but the fear that it might happen cannot be used to dictate the policy of the minority, because in that case, the scenario of the destruction of the state becomes a lot more tangible than in the case of the "prize for terror" that the disengagement opponents are claiming.