Sharon to PA: Expect a tougher response to terror after pullout
Jerusalem Post | July 25, 2005
By HERB KEINON
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon warned the Palestinians Sunday that terrorism from Gaza after disengagement will be met with a new and harsh IDF response.
Responding to the murder of Dov and Rachel Kol in Gaza late Saturday night, Sharon said that Israel would "not countenance this terrorism." He said he made this clear during his meeting Friday with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
"I made it clear to her the additional instructions that I have given to the security establishment on this issue are very clear and that the IDF will respond gravely against terrorist activity. I made it clear to the secretary of state that our response will be of a different kind, with an addition of severe means, if it is done during the evacuation, or if there will be terror after we leave the Gaza Strip. This was made unequivocally clear."
Sharon has said consistently that Israel would not disengage under fire, meaning that if the Palestinians fired on Israel during this period, the IDF would take stringent measures to silence the source of the fire. He took this a step further Sunday, saying that if there were attacks from Gaza after withdrawal, Israel would feel free to use a degree of force it has not used until now.
Another issue discussed during Sharon's meeting with Rice on Friday – the ultimate fate of the Philadelphi corridor – was also discussed in the cabinet, with Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu arguing that Israel would make a mistake by leaving it.
Sharon told Rice Israel wanted to leave the area, but couldn't do so until the Palestinians and Egyptians showed that they could stop the smuggling of arms into Gaza from Egypt.
Netanyahu said that if the IDF were to leave the area, it would open up a window of opportunity for terrorists, such as those who carried out Saturday's attacks in Sharm e-Sheikh, and that the Palestinians would be able to smuggle in arms that "can threaten Israel's cities. No one will defend Israel better than IDF soldiers," he said.
Netanyahu said he realized there was a price for staying in the corridor, but a bigger price would be paid by leaving and letting Gaza be turned into a base for Islamic terrorists that could threaten Israel.
In a related diplomatic development, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom traveled to London Sunday for talks Monday with Prime Minister Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. These talks were scheduled prior to the recent spate of attacks in London, and timed to coincide with Britain's recent ascension to the rotating EU presidency.
Before departing, Shalom said the talks would focus on the terror offensive that has hit London, Sharm e-Sheikh and Israel. Shalom said he would ask Britain to use its influence to get Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to "finally" make the decision to dismantle the terror infrastructure.
Shalom also said he would stress to the British that Israel was determined to make sure disengagement would not take place under fire. He also said he would reiterate that Israel was opposed to Hamas's participation in the upcoming elections because of the fear that this would be tantamount to letting a Trojan horse into the PA.