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Ayoob Kara

JERUSALEM – Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to evacuate Jewish communities from Gaza and parts of the West Bank this summer is seen by Palestinians as a victory for terrorism and will result in further withdrawals from other Israeli cities, including Jerusalem, Arab Knesset member Ayoob Kara told WorldNetDaily yesterday in an exclusive interview.

“The withdrawal is going to be terrible for Israeli security. Hamas is going to become dominant as soon as Israel leaves Gaza, and they will use the land to stage more attacks against Israel,” said Kara, a Druze Arab member of Sharon’s Likud party.

Kara, the first non-Jewish Likud Knesset member, has become a vocal opponent of the Gaza disengagement the past few months, lobbying other Israeli politicians against the plan, explaining he thinks it is a strategic mistake on many levels.

“Aside from Hamas taking over, there are so many other problems with the disengagement,” said Kara. “Like what about a final settlement with the Palestinians? Why would they ever want to reach a peace agreement when we are just giving them the land for nothing? There wont be much left to bargain about.”

Kara agreed with the assessments of most critics of the Gaza evacuation that Palestinian groups will view the Israeli retreat as a vindication for terror tactics.

“Hamas is already telling their supporters that Israel leaving Gaza is because of their terrorism, so they are thinking terrorism works,” said Kara.

A confidential Hamas memo written by Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahar, Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, and obtained last summer by WorldNetDaily, stated the terror group views Sharon’s unilateral withdrawal as a capitulation to terror and is planning to continue its “armed struggle” against the Jewish state until “all territories” are in Palestinian hands.

“The withdrawal, if it is implemented, is an important achievement by the Palestinian people, its intifada and armed struggle, its determination and great sacrifice, and confirms the willingness, correctness and usefulness of employing an armed struggle and its ability to attain political objectives,” writes al-Zohar.

“We will emphasize our people’s right to resist the occupation [outside the Gaza Strip] so long as the occupation of the land and the aggression continue, with the understanding that withdrawal from Gaza is not the end of the story and occupation is still present in the rest of the lands and that not all rights and holy sites have been returned yet,” the memo stated.

Kara says the Gaza disengagement is motivated by “the pathological need for Israelis to have everything right away. They tried Oslo. They tried Camp David. They tried intense negotiations. Instead, the Palestinians started a terror war. Israelis just want to live in peace, so now they are moving to the next quick fix, the next supposed solution to everything, the Gaza withdrawal.”

The Druze politician says he has held many private meetings with Sharon in which he attempted to convince the prime minister to see things differently.

“He won’t listen. Sharon has surrounded himself with all the leftist politicians, and they are controlling things. They are the ones pushing this through.”

Marking a departure from most Israeli Arab thought, Kara says the best course would be for “Israel to talk to Jordan. It’s a Palestinian state anyway. Most of its residents are Palestinians. Jordan needs to become the ruling authority for Palestinian Arabs.”

A Palestinian population transfer to Jordan has always been a controversial topic in Israel. Many politicians who advocated such a move have been effectively sidelined.

Kara says “everyone is afraid to recognize the obvious. But this is what needs to be done.”

In spite of Israeli statements to the contrary, Kara warned the Gaza withdrawal will result in further evacuations.

“This is just the beginning. If Sharon is still in power, there will be withdrawals from everything the Palestinians want – Jerusalem, the West Bank … I don’t believe Sharon when he says Gaza is the last stop.”

There have been talks of further evacuations, although Sharon distanced himself from the claims.

In June, Israeli Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, whose statements are considered closely aligned with Sharon’s policy, told the Jerusalem Post he is willing to cede Israeli control over at least six Arab neighborhoods that lie on the periphery of Jerusalem. He named Isawiya – adjacent to the city’s French Hill neighborhood – the nearby Shuafat refugee camp, Anata, the northern village of Kfar Akab, and Sur Bahir and Umm Tuba, on the city’s southeastern rim.

“Jerusalem is dear to me, but one must not lose sight of proportions over peripheral areas we do not need,” Olmert said.

In Washington yesterday, Sharon solidified American support for the withdrawal. President George W. Bush said he has “confidence” in Sharon’s “strong leadership,” and pledged America would cooperate with Israel in developing the Negev and Galilee areas, a clear indication there will be some U.S. financial aid for the disengagement plan.

Kara, 49, was born in Israel, and grew up in a small northern Arab community. He boasts a large constituency from Israel’s 100,000 Druze residents, but says he has even greater Jewish backing.

“Sometimes I forget I’m not Jewish,” says Kara.

There are some 600,000 Druze in the Middle East and another 100,000 in various parts of the world. During Israel’s War of Independence, many Druze, including Kara’s family, sided with the Jews, embracing Israel and even joining its military. Israeli Arabs are exempt from military duty, but may apply to serve as volunteers.

Kara says he feels a patriotic duty to speak out against the Gaza withdrawal.

“I love my country and don’t want to see it make such a horrible mistake.”

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