Withdrawal From Gaza Halted in Its Tracks.
Although, the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza – the largest deportation of Jews from their homes since Poland 1944 – passed a legislative hurdle in today’s Knesset vote, it has not begun or been definitively approved and may yet be subject to a nationwide referendum.
The whole process, though, may have just been stopped in its tracks.
In a press conference held at the Dome of the Rock immediately following the Knesset vote, Gaza settler leaders, led by the leaders of the settlement block Gush Katif, announced that they and their followers have converted to Islam. The Gaza settlers have all either submitted electronic forms through an Islamic website or have stated “I bear witness that there is no diety but Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”
This news seems to have brought an immediate reaction from certain countries and NGOs.
Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, stated that “the deportation of 8000 Muslims from their homes constituted a serious crime against humanity and a violation of international law.
Saeb Ekrat, interviewed on CNN, stated that the people of Gush Katif had lived in their homes since time immemorial, before the Jews even existed, and that the planned actions of the Sharon government constitute another vicious deportation of indigenous peoples by the Israeli government. He continued that the Palestinian Authority could not be held responsible for the violence that might result from this unheard of provocation – the deportation of 20,000 women and children. He stated that the Palestinians would seek an international presence in the Gaza Strip to protect these people. Also interviewed by CNN was the former president of Iran, Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani. He was not aware of the developments but welcomed the new converts to the fold and stated emphatically that if any Muslims are removed from their homes, Iran would “burn the little satan, the Zionist entity, with fire from the sun to bring peace to the world.” When asked if he was referring to a hydrogen bomb or other nuclear device, President Rafsanjani stated that Iran was only pursing nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
In a hastily arranged speech in Kuala Lumpor, former Malaysian prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad stated that Sharon and the Jews are pig monkey dogs and that the attempt to deport 50,000 Muslims would demonstrate to the world that the Jews are cockroaches and the spreaders of AIDS. The Malaysian Foreign Ministry later clarified that these statements were not anti-Semitic but reflected a reaction to the actions of Israel.
Human Rights Watch is preparing a report on the deportations which it says violates the first, third and forth Geneva Conventions as well as numerous other laws applicable only to Israel. It announced that it is investigating allegations of massacres of former Jews in these former Jewish settlements, now ancient Arab villages, by Israeli security forces,
France in its role as rotating president of the European Union announced that it and other members of the European Union could not be expected to protect Jews living in the European Union if Israel undertakes such aggressive actions against Muslims. France has announced that it will accelerate aid to Hamas, Hizballah and other humanitarian organizations which will deal with the eventual human rights crisis that would result from these actions. When a reporter asked about the concurrent humanitarian crisis in Sudan, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier stated that as the crisis in Gush Katif dwarfed that of Darfur, Sudan, the European Union had rescheduled its meeting to discuss taking immediate action to aid those being killed by Arab militias in Sudan until the fall of 2006.
The government of Israel has not formerly responded to these developments but former Knesset member, Yossi Beilin during a stopover in Geneva stated that while he did support the deportation of Jews from their homes, he did not support the deportation of Muslims under any circumstances but went on to question whether the settlers had the proper intent when converting. Tomy Lapid, head of the Shinui party stated that any form of conversion, no matter how cursory, was satisfactory and he would not stand for a haredi interpretation of conversion requirements.
When questioned during a campaign stop over, John Kerry said that he would have voted for the disengagement but would now vote against it, if he could vote.