HAARETZ 1. SHARON TO MKS: DECISION ON DISENGAGEMENT IS TOUGH BUT WE DONT WANT TO RULE MILLIONS OF PALESTINIANS. Assessment: Disengagement plan to be approved this evening; Netanyahu, Shalom and Livnat meet to coordinate pressuring Sharon with demand to hold referendum. 2. WOMEN SOLDIERS AND CAREER OFFICERS TO CONFRONT SETTLERS. 3. 16 PALESTINIANS – INCLUDING FIVE CIVILIANS – KILLED IN IDF ACTION IN KHAN YUNIS. 4. KERRYS AND BUSHS ADVISERS AT AIPAC CONFERENCE: YES TO DISENGAGEMENT, NO TO ARAFAT. ( ). 5. DECADE SINCE PEACE TREATY WITH JORDAN. Pro-Palestinian demonstrations to be held in Amman but businessmen hope that relations will continue to develop. 6. ARAFAT ALLOWED TO LEAVE MUKATA. For first time in two years, Israel announced that it would enable PA Chairman to leave for medical tests in Ramallah. HATZOFEH 1. Today: Following marathon speeches and opposite demonstrators for and against expelling Jews – Knesset will vote on transfer of Gush Katif Jews. RACISM TEST. Apparent: Expulsion of Jews to pass Knesset on strength of Arab votes. As of last night: 55-65 in favor, 52 against. Sharon divorces settlements in speech: You have developed among yourselves a messianic complex. Mitzna: Possible to prevent evacuation of northern Gaza Strip communities. 2. EGYPT: WE HAVE ARRESTED THOSE WHO PERPETRATED SINAI ATTACKS. 3. TWO JEWISH FAMILIES MOVE IN NEAR RACHELS TOMB. 4. FORMER HEAD OF GERMAN INTELLIGENCE: RON ARAD DIED IN 1996. MAARIV 1. This evening: Fateful vote on disengagement. This is a fateful hour I have never faced so difficult a decision I am firmly convinced and truly believe that this disengagement will strengthen Israel I have also have learned from experience that the sword alone cannot decide this bitter dispute in this land I call on the people of Israel to unite I call on you to support me at this decisive time. MAKING HISTORY. Knesset stands to approve Sharons plan for unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. Last count: 66 in favor, 50 against. 2. GERMAN MEDIATOR TO MAARIV: HIGH PROBABILITY THAT RON ARAD IS DEAD. YEDIOT AHRONOT 1. Disengagement day. THE DECISION. The speech – Sharon: This is a fateful hour I have never faced so difficult a decision disengagement will strengthen Israel the sword alone cannot decide this bitter dispute in this land. The drama – Netanyahu pressuring Sharon to agree to referendum but is expected to vote in favor. Landau and Ratzon waiting for dismissal letters. Split in NRP: Eitam and Levy to quit. Yediot Ahronot-Mina Tzemach poll: 65% favor disengagement, 26% oppose. 2. SHAMIR FAMILY SEEKING FUNDING TO HOSPITALIZE HIM IN INSTITUTION. Health of 89-year-old former PM deteriorating. Opposition in Knesset: He has a pension. Shulamit Shamir: He never gave lectures like Barak and Netanyahu. 3. ASSESSMENT STRENGTHENING: ARAFAT HAS INTESTINAL CANCER. Wife Suha asked to come from Paris to visit him. Mofaz approved his leaving the Mukata for tests in Ramallah hospital.
______________________________ SUMMARY OF EDITORIALS FROM THE HEBREW PRESS Both papers comment on various issues related to todays Knesset vote on Prime Minister Ariel Sharons Disengagement Plan: Hatzofeh believes: In a parliamentary regime, the prime minister is first among equals. He is not entitled to ignore the opinion of the majority that raised him to power. If the majority is not to his liking, he must return his mandate – and resign. It is unacceptable that a prime minister, who has lost a majority in the coalition that selected him for his high position, to exploit his position in order to establish a coalition with the left when the Likud conference that convened recently decided unequivocally against bringing the left wing parties into the coalition. The editors accuse Prime Minister Sharon of browbeating his Likud opponents into submission but suggest that the Likud Knesset fwill balk at bringing Labor into the coalition. The paper believes that if Prime Minister Sharon does not consent to a referendum, there will be early elections. Yediot Ahronot says that most of the current tension is due to, The threats of those opponents of disengagement who are plotting to disrupt the proper workings of the rule of law. Yediot Ahronot, in its second editorial, discusses a possible scenario in which the government is unable to pass the 2005 budget by the end of March, which would force early elections in the early summer. Alternatively, the editors believe that if Prime Minister Sharon wins a referendum on disengagement, the plan could proceed as planned. In any case, the paper predicts that the national political scene will be highly unsettled in the foreseeable future. BPI-info