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Saturday, September 10, 2005
Most ministers oppose Gaza synagogues' razing

Most ministers oppose Gaza synagogues' razing
By Aluf Benn and Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondents and Haaretz Service 10
September 2005
www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/623113.html

Ten ministers are expected to vote against the demolition of the evacuated
Gaza Strip settlements' synagogues in a crucial cabinet vote on Sunday.

The cabinet meeting will determine the future of the houses of worship in
the Strip.

Six ministers have voiced their opposition to the move over the weekend,
joined by four other ministers who said they will vote against the move at
the meeting.

The ministers who are expected to vote against the demolition of synagogues
in the Gaza Strip are: National Infrastructures Minister Benjamin
Ben-Elizer, Health Minister Danny Naveh, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom,
Education Minister Limor Livnat, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and minister
without portfolio Tzachi Hanegbi who all expressed their opposition over the
weekend.

The other four minister are Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz, Environment
Minister Shalom Simhon, Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra and Acting
Science Minister Matan Vilnai.

Only three minister have said they will vote for the synagogues' demolition:
Interior Minister Ophir Pines-Paz, minister without portfolio Haim Ramon and
Transportation Minister Meir Sheetrit. The five remaining ministers,
including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Vice Premier Shimon Peres are
still unsure how they will vote.

Unfair to the Palestinians

Senior Palestinian officials said it would be best if Israel demolished the
buildings and did not leave the duty of their demolition with the
Palestinian Authority.

Jibril Rajoub, a senior security aide to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said the
PA could not guarantee protection for the structures, "because the
Palestinians see them as symbols of occupation".

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat urged Israel to demolish the
synagogues, saying it would be unfair to put the Palestinians in a situation
of "damned if we do, damned if we don't."

"We maintain the highest respect for Judaism. We don't want to be put in a
situation that we are demolishing synagogues in front of the world, or some
of our people may do something that we don't want them to do," Erekat said.

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