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The Yesha Council had to choose between two contrary approaches on Sunday. One option, which the council termed "doing the minimum," was to continue to protest the disengagement within the framework of the law, which effectively meant accepting the evacuation of Gaza. The other was to gradually break the rules of the democratic game, leading to guaranteed clashes with the government and the army. The council chose the second option; Pinhas Wallerstein was merely its spokesman. There was no real agonizing.

The council's decision to call for mass violations of the Disengagement Law, even if the violators are sent to jail, is a direct result of the collapse of its earlier strategy, which was meant to bring about elections or a referendum before the disengagement. When Yesha leaders realized that this was not going to happen, they decided on a sharp change of direction: No longer would they seek broad public support, on the assumption that elections were in the offing. No longer would they try to "settle in people's hearts" in preparation for a referendum.

Now, the council is aiming at the already converted: the hundreds of thousands of settlers and the religious Zionist public. It is giving up - at least temporarily - on Tel Aviv and Gush Dan, to which its campaign had mainly been directed hitherto, and focusing instead on getting its own public into the streets. And this public has to be addressed in a different language: by terming the government "illegitimate" rather than refraining from doing so, by embracing nonviolent civil disobedience instead of rejecting it.

In a way, it is ironic. The person who first advocated using civil disobedience to prevent settlement evacuations, more than two decades ago, was Elyakim Haetzni. But for years, the Yesha Council refused to touch Haetzni's plans. Now, his fiercest opponents are adopting his ideas. Haetzni's dream was to fill Israel's jails with tens of thousands of willing detainees who would knowingly violate the law and be ready to pay the price. Haetzni wrote dozens of articles on this subject, drawing his inspiration from Martin Luther King and Gandhi. Now, his colleagues have even adopted his language: The Yesha Council's official statement also mentioned King and Gandhi.

But the real test of the new strategy will be in the field: Do the thousands who are supposed to fill Israel's jails really exist?