Letter of Resignation
I realize I'm late to the party by posting this but if you haven't seen it -- you should. Read Benjamin Netanyahu's letter of resignation to Ariel Sharon. He says a lot of what I'm feeling but a helluva lot better than I could.
Mr. Prime Minister,
From the moment you presented your disengagement plan to me, I told you I was against a unilateral withdrawal in which Israel would receive nothing in return. Such a withdrawal, I argued, would only strengthen the forces of terror. At a minimum, I implored you to place the settlement blocs within the security fence before beginning the withdrawal and to maintain Israel's control over the Philadelphi Corridor. In doing so, we could have established new security lines that protected our national interests rather than create the impression that we are running from terror. Later, we established a mechanism enabling the government to decide whether or not to proceed with the withdrawal depending on the changing reality on the ground.
Unfortunately, the security fence has not been completed, the Philadelphi Corridor will be handed over to the Palestinians, and worst of all, we are permitting the Palestinians to open a seaport that will enable them to import weapons with abandon.
Sadly, the government is blindly moving forward. Just as I feared, Hamas is getting stronger, the terror is continuing, mortars and kassams are being fired on our towns, and our enemies boldly declare that they will transfer the rockets that expelled us from the Gaza Strip to Judea and Samaria, and fire them until they achieve their goal of "the complete Liberation of Palestine."
I do not know when the full force of Palestinian terror will return. Perhaps it will take a month or two, perhaps a year or two. I pray that the terror will stop, but I fear it won't. Just as I was convinced in 1993 that the Oslo agreement would result in rocket attacks from Gaza and terror attacks from Judea and Samaria, I am convinced today that the disengagement plan will strengthen terror and not weaken it. As you well know, our security experts expect that terror in the medium-term will increase.
In short, it is becoming crystal clear that the unilateral disengagement is bringing no benefit to Israel. On the contrary, it is endangering our security, dividing the nation, and justifying the untenable demand that Israel return to the indefensible borders of 1967.
This is not the way to achieve peace.
I have always thought that a withdrawal from Gaza was possible within the context of a peace agreement or in return for a tangible benefit. But what is Israel getting in return for its decision to uproot families, destroy their homes and disinter their loved ones? In return, we are getting a new base for Islamic terror.
After the terror attacks in New York, Washington, Madrid, London and in the Sinai, the world is beginning to understand that terror must be confronted, not appeased. And Israel, the nation that once showed the whole world how a free people courageously confront terrorism, is now taking a different course.
In the last few months, I hoped that the government would open its eyes and change direction. But the very opposite has happened. A center-right government that expressed the will of the nation following the last elections was replaced with a government that automatically implements policies that are contrary to the principles of the Likud and the mandate we received from the public.
Mr. Prime Minister, you could have preserved a center-right government. You could have prevented a split in the nation. For many months, I implored you to hold a referendum that would have preserved unity in the party and unity in the nation. Unfortunately, you opposed a general referendum and at the same time broke your promise to accept the results of a referendum within the Likud. As we face the difficult days ahead, the need for both the government and the public to act with the utmost restraint and responsibility has never been greater.
For a long time, I have remained in the government despite my opposition to the disengagement plan and my growing reservations with the developments taking place on the ground. I did so in the hope that my influence within the government could help minimize the dangers of the disengagement plan. At the same time, I remained in the government because of my sense of responsibility as minister of finance. We were in the midst of passing revolutionary economic reforms that I believe are critical to the nation's economic future, including most recently the capital market reform and tax reform.
When I became Minister of Finance two and a half years ago, the Israeli economy was on the verge of collapse. Today, the economy is healthy, growing and prosperous. If the economic policy I led is not changed, growth will continue and all of Israel's citizens will benefit.
Today, we have reached the moment of decision. There is a path toward peace and security. A unilateral withdrawal under fire is not that path. I am unwilling to be a partner to a process that chooses to ignore reality and blindly advances a policy that will create an Islamic terrorist base that will threaten the nation. I am unwilling to be a partner to an irresponsible policy that endangers the security of the state, divides the nation, establishes the precedent for Israel's return to the indefensible 1967 lines, and even endangers the future of a united Jerusalem.
I therefore submit this letter of resignation.