Peace Now proposes plan to evacuate settlements in Gaza and the West Bank

By Nadav Shragai
Ha'aretz Correspondent
December 5, 2000

Peace Now called yesterday for the immediate evacuation of dozens of Jewish
settlements in the territories in areas where the majority of the population
is Palestinian.

The organization's proposal, presented at a press conference, calls for the
immediate evacuation of 6,500 settlers from the Gaza Strip and the eventual
pullout of some 100,000 others from dozens of settlements in the West Bank.
The plan also calls for negotiating with the Palestinians on the basis of
the 1967 borders, including in Jerusalem, and proposes an exchange of
territory with the Palestinians over areas in the West Bank with a high
Jewish population, such as Gush Etzion.

According to the Peace Now plan, there are eight different categories of
settlements, the first six of which should be evacuated:

l Settlements in the heart of the Gaza Strip that are near large
concentrations of Palestinians, such as Netzarim, Kfar Darom, Morag and
Neveh Dekalim. These comprise a total of 6,500 settlers.

l Settlements in the heart of the West Bank that are in densely populated
Palestinian areas, such as Hebron, Kfar Tapuah, Nahliel, Ofra, Beit El,
Psagot and Kiryat Arba. These total 18,500 settlers.

l Settlements surrounded by Palestinian villages, such as Elon Moreh,
Kedumim, Yitzhar and Eli, with a total of 16,000 residents.

l Settlements situated deep in the West Bank, such as Emmanuel, Ariel and
Adumim, with a total population of 45,000.

l Settlements in the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea area, totaling 5,000
people.

l Settlements that disrupt Palestinian territorial contiguity, containing
nearly 20,000 settlers.

l Settlements in Gush Etzion, with 12,000 residents.

l Settlements near the Green Line, with a total of 72,000 settlers.

According to Professor Amiram Goldblum and Didi Remez, leading members of
Peace Now, the agreement with the Palestinians should include the immediate
evacuation of the settlements in Gaza, and the gradual pullout from other
settlements. They warned, however, that any such pullout should not be
stretched out over a long period of time.

"The evacuation should take place by offering alternative housing inside
Israel, in areas which will be agreed upon with the settlers," the proposal
states. "The Israeli government is obligated to offer housing alternatives
for the evacuated settlers, and the needs of the special communal character
of some of the settlements must be met."

In response to the plan, the head of the Binyamin Regional Council, Pinchas
Wallerstein, called on Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein to outlaw Peace
Now. "Israelis who are trying to get Jews driven from their homes under the
auspices of the bullets of the Tanzim and Arafat's terrorists essentially
constitute a fifth column who are cooperating with the enemy," he said.