Sebastia, the 2005 Version

The demonstrators wish not merely to sabotage the evacuation, but to replace the government; they are using non-kosher means to achieve it, although a few important rabbis have given them their blessing.

Let there be no mistake regarding the decision about to be made in the Gush Katif area today: It is not the fate of the disengagement that is at stake, but the ability of Israeli democracy to continue to function.

The demonstrators wish not merely to sabotage the evacuation, but to replace the government; they are using non-kosher means to achieve it, although a few important rabbis have given them their blessing.

Two moves are coming together toward noon: The Knesset vote on Zevulun Orlev's proposal to postpone the disengagement plan's implementation by one year, and the culmination of the right-wing activists' protest march. (While this is being written, it is not clear how things will develop.)

On the face of it, the two arms of the pincers complement each other: The throng of tens of thousands of people toward Gush Katif is meant to "support" the parliamentary move. In fact, this is a false presentation. While Orlev's legislation initiative is a constitutional, legitimate act, the mass march on the gates of Gaza is the complete opposite. While the attempt to achieve a Knesset majority to a resolution revoking the pullout is in keeping with the acceptable rules of the game, the Yesha Council effort comes to break them.

The fervent army of followers that Bentzi Lieberman and Pinhas Wallerstein have recruited wishes to break into the area closed off by the Israel Defense Forces and the police, by law and by the power of their authority, and to torpedo the decision to withdraw from the Gaza Strip.

By using the right to freedom of protest, and by complaining about the allegedly nondemocratic reaction of the police, the demonstrators are throwing sand in the public's eyes. Their goal is to create circumstances that would prevent implementing the cabinet's decisions. They need arguments deriving from the world of the democratic discourse to carry out their plot, which is to revoke the lawful and legitimate decisions of the state's authorities. In the name of the freedom of demonstration, they are striving to infiltrate into Gush Katif, barricade themselves in it and thus foil its evacuation. It is that simple, and that cynical.

There is no need for advanced intelligence or a keen eye to see the intentions of the Yesha Council leaders. They announced it openly: "Our aim is to topple Sharon. The disengagement plan will not pass because we will come to Gush Katif in masses and prevent carrying it out."

To make it sound more pleasant, they now add that they will not resort to violence. They are even begging the demonstrators to avoid clashing with the police and soldiers.

These are hypocritical statements. There is no need for brawls or a fracas to prevent the defense forces from fulfilling their duty. The very gathering of tens of thousands of people in 21 Gush Katif settlements will prevent their evacuation. Instead of dealing with 8,000 people, the police and soldiers will have to face 100,000. Instead of finding four to five people in each of the 1,700 homes slated for evacuation, they will confront 40 to 50 fanatic objectors to the evacuation. No police or military force can carry out this assignment.

The violence of their move is in the very decision to gather tens of thousands of people into the area marked for evacuation to resist, if only "passively," the forces implementing the withdrawal decision. The protest march is the spearhead of the mass invasion.

Exactly 31 years ago, in July 1974, the settlement project kicked off at the Sebastia railway station. This was a dictate foisted on the government by the "passive resistance" of Gush Emunim and with the help of a political pressure lobby headed by the ministers of the National Religious Party and Ariel Sharon.

The weakness of the governments and of naive mediators enabled the act of rape to be carried out. Today, the Yesha Council wishes to reenact that success with a similar pincer movement. It is ironic to watch the role changes of the leading characters.