Israeli security cabinet approved in a 9-1 vote on Tuesday a range of proposals governing evacuation and compensation of settlers under the disengagement initiative.

The decisions pave the way for advance payments for settlers who state willingness to voluntarily relocate.

Minister Zevulun Orlev of the National Religious Party was the only minister who voted against the proposal.

Sharon: Referendum Not on the Agenda


‘Not on the agenda,’ Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon responded Monday to right wing calls to hold a referendum on disengagement.

Sharon also said that the schedule already set for approving disengagement does not leave time for such a referendum.

The latest call for holding a referendum was made by Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz supported Sharon’s stand, saying that even while in principle he does not object holding a referendum, he believes that a cabinet and Knesset decisions were enough to authorize disengagement.

Meanwhile, the National Religious Party Central Committee decided by a large majority to remain in the cabinet until a decision is made on a referendum with a special majority.

Opponents of disengagement had repeatedly raised the referendum idea in an attempt to torpedo Sharon’s efforts for a speedy approval and implementation of disengagement.

Settlers and right wing hardliners are particularly opposed to the evacuation of some settlements that is included in the prime minister’s plan.

Netanyahu, defended his stand as a measure to prevent a rift in the people and preserve Likud’s unity, but affirmed that he will vote against it in Tuesday’s cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu also said that a gradual disengagement plan would win a large majority.

‘I’m not suggesting the referendum as a delay tactic,’ Netanyahu said.

Sources in the Sharon camp expressed concern that Netanyahu’s proposal would take off, forcing the prime minister into a referendum, the outcome of which was far from certain.

On Sunday, around 50,000 settlers and right wing activists demonstrated in Jerusalem against the disengagement plan and called Sharon to hold elections or a referendum.

Earlier settler leaders warned that without running elections or a referendum a civil war might erupt.