10 Jun 2004 12:19:29 +0200 HEADLINES FROM THE HEBREW PRESS HA’ARETZ 1. DISENGAGEMENT TIMETABLE: VOLUNTARY WITHDRAWAL TO BEGIN IN TWO MONTHS. National Security Council document: Forced evacuation from 2nd September 2005. 2. FORMER OC INTELLIGENCE MALKA: MAJ.-GEN. AMOS GILAD DISTORTED INTELLIGENCE ASSESSMENTS ON REASONS FOR INTIFADA. 3. JENIN CAMP BEING REBUILT – ACCORDING TO WIDTH OF TANKS. 4. JUDGE: GILAD SHARON NOT IN CONTEMPT OF COURT. (…). HATZOFEH 1. Staff work begins ahead of evacuation of Gaza Strip and northern Samaria. DISENGAGEMENT PLAN – PREPARATIONS BEGINNING. Disengagement Plan Steering Committee members met yesterday for first time since government vote. Sharon does not rule out opening contacts with Labor soon. Assessment: If Mazuz decides not to put him on trial – Labor will join very soon. In the meantime Sharon managed to push off opposition proposals via “minority coalition.” (…). 2. JUDGE: GILAD SHARON DELIVERED DOCUMENTS. MA’ARIV 1. Ahead of disengagement: Can ask for advances. AS OF TODAY: BEGINNING TO DEMAND COMPENSATION. According to timetable for carrying out disengagement, Knesset legislation to be completed by March 2005. Finance Minister working to obtain “economic security net.” Purpose: To attain support from National Unity for reform of banks and ports. YEDIOT AHRONOT 1. BATTLE FOR THE BABY. (…). 2. AS OF TODAY: NEGOTIATIONS ON COMPENSATING SETTLERS. Disengagement Plan Steering Committee decided to allow settlers from communities to be evacuated to start negotiations on amount of compensation. ______________________________ SUMMARY OF EDITORIALS FROM THE HEBREW PRESS Both papers discuss the internal state of the National Religious Party (NRP): Yediot Ahronot notes that since the elections for the 9th Knesset in 1977, when the NRP won 12 seats, “until the [current] 15th Knesset, its strength has waned,” and cites an internal NRP report, that was issued after the most recent elections, which determined that, “its adherence to a single issue was causing all the trouble.” The editors suggest that, “A large proportion of religious Zionists believed that other parties have done better than the NRP in advancing the initiative of annexing the territories,” and speculate that the party has lost voters to the National Union, the Likud and Meimad. The paper notes that not only has the NRP not heed the report’s advice about being identified as a single-issue party but it also rejected nearly all of the democratizing internal reforms that the report called for. The editors assert that while the NRP’s Knesset strength has indeed waned, religious Zionism as a movement is still strong and vibrant, and aver that this is causing NRP pragmatists, “to hesitate before deciding whether or not to gamble on their movement’s bright future and pin it on the results of a single political fight.” The paper remarks: “The larger parties, each in its time, knew how to adapt themselves to changes in the public mood, and showed the flexibility necessary for acrobatic ideological leaps. The NRP now finds itself chained to the settlements and sees the Likud – as it listens to changing moods – lurching to the left. The religious Zionist party is now discovering its strategic mistake – loss of its ability to maneuver. If it leaves the government, it will be swallowed up in the extremist rightwing bloc and gradually lose its assets; and if it stays – it will lose half of its MKs, devotees of the Greater Land.” Hatzofeh criticizes NRP Minister Effie Eitam and Deputy Minister Yitzhak Levy for bypassing the NRP institutions when they unilaterally decided to resign from the government. The editors warn that, “The religious Zionist public is fed up with the splits and the factionalism,” and add that, “The latest rift in the NRP is liable to put an end to it.” The paper calls for party unity and argue that the Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza can only suffer from a split in the NRP.

__________ Yediot Ahronot, in its second editorial, comments that, “Ariel Sharon is not letting anybody peek at his cards.” The editors suggest that if US President George is reelected, he will step up the pressure on Prime Minister Sharon. The paper ventures that the combination of US pressure and further possible terror attacks will cause more Israelis to support the disengagement plan. The editors believe that, “At some stage, Sharon will clarify his intentions toward the Labor Party and will force it to make a tough decision – join his government or play in opposition. Being in opposition is difficult for it but joining the Likud and Shinui will – for years to come – determine its status as a spare wheel on the government cart. It’s in trouble. We’re in trouble.” BPI: