Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's victory in the Likud convention destroyed the strategy adopted in recent months by almost all of the disengagement's opponents.
They all assumed the right-wing pressure, both on the street and in the political arena, would lead to elections or a referendum before the disengagement. Yesterday, when the vote results were in - and assuming Labor and at least one ultra-Orthodox party would join Sharon's new coalition - it was clear this was not the case.
The anti-disengagement activists are still pinning their hopes on the Likud rebels, but it is hard to believe that they would vote no confidence in Sharon, and force elections, after the party convention rejected this option.
For months, the anti-disengagement activists and Gush Katif settlers have prepared tens of thousands of volunteers for an unprecedented operation of visiting 1.2 million homes. They hoped to repeat the success of the right-wing activists and settlers who visited the homes of Likud voters, leading to the victory in the party's referendum on the disengagement.
"Operation Face to Face" was launched 10 days ago. Hundreds of house calls were made - in Jerusalem, Tiberias, Be'er Sheva and Petah Tikva. The anti-disengagement leaders were about the expand the operation; now, to their dismay, it appears there will be no referendum and no elections, at least in the foreseeable future.
The question facing the disengagement opponents is whether to continue with
the operation, hoping that pressure "from the people" will force elections, or to freeze the planned activity and reassess their moves. In any case, until a new coalition is formed, they will still try to persuade Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and the rabbis of United Torah Judaism and Degel Hatorah to refrain from joining Sharon in the government. They will also exert steamroller pressure on the Likud mavericks, demanding they topple Sharon, even at the price of elections.
If this fails, the right wing will probably take the course outlined in the last edition of the settlers' publication Nekudah by the highly respected Rabbi Ya'akov Medan, of Alon Shvut. Medan wrote 10 days ago that "Sharon has been shown as one who is afraid of the nation and wants a violent struggle. Now we must prepare for a physical struggle of tens of thousands of people who will stop the uprooting and destruction with their bodies."
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