The prime minister landed in Israel yesterday after a successful visit to American Jewry. He is returning at a time when it is becoming more and more evident that there have been intolerable delays in the planning of the disengagement. It is precisely because the withdrawal from Gaza is being welcomed by the Jewish world, including organizations that took hard-line rightist positions in the past, that the flawed planning of the operation is highlighted as it meanders from the sand dunes of Nitzanim to Ashkelon, prefab housing to rented apartments, evacuation by agreement to forcible ejection.
It seems that the walking on eggs, the efforts to avoid angering the evacuees, the endless waiting for their agreement to evacuation and the shameless courting of evacuees to sign evacuation compensation contracts and accept one of the housing options proposed by the government have all combined to produce unnecessary complications and delays in execution.
Ariel Sharon's TV appearance at Nitzanim, leaning over maps and haranguing officials and ministers for not doing enough, shows that so far, the results are not good - and that's an understatement.
The state must offer reasonable solutions and make sure they are implemented, regardless of the the willingness or lack of willingness of Gush Katif residents to evacuate. Three months before the designated evacuation date, it's time to stop dealing with the petty details of the evacuation, the demonstrations, the psychology of the divide and the Shin Bet's conspiratorial prevention efforts, and to get down to practical matters.
From the start, the government should have chosen an individual evacuation procedure, not a collective one, telling every evacuee that they can choose where they want to live, anywhere in Israel, and that the state will provide them assistance.
The intolerable demand by the evacuees to keep their regional council led to the search for an area suitable for all of them in one place. It was impossible to conduct such a grandiose operation at such short notice, especially since the evacuees tried to advance it and torpedo it at the same time.
The justifiable ultimatum presented by the justice minister to the evacuees, demanding that they decide which way they are going, was met with a series of completely unnecessary altercations on radio and TV. The whining conduct of the evacuees, the government's sycophantic manner, is leading to failure. While Sharon urges everyone to do more, the staff at the evacuation administration complains that they aren't getting backing.
The disengagement plan has a majority in the Knesset, the government, the Israeli public, the international community and now, it turns out, in the Jewish community in the U.S.
It is the applause that accompanied Sharon at his appearances before the AIPAC conference in Washington and Jewish organizations in New York, and the not self-evident support for the plan by the heads of the presidents' conference and the leading rabbinical seminaries of all three Jewish movements, that challenge the government to meet its commitments.
Gush Katif's residents must understand that the die has been cast. The government must make sure that those who continue to oppose the disengagement up to the last minute get appropriate housing and lawful compensation. Endlessly stretching out the negotiations is unreasonable.
The prime minister does not need to direct the bulldozers in the dunes, but he should be imbuing his ministers and the officials in charge of the operation with the energy to fulfill the government's commitment to the evacuation.
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