New York – The ZOA has expressed deep concern that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s top aide, Dov Weisglass, said last week that “Israel could eventually expect that at least 180,000 of the current 240,000 settlers would be able to stay in the West Bank with U.S. approval” (Reuters, August 4, 2005), indicating that as many as 60,000 will be forcibly uprooted from their homes, schools, synagogues, farms and businesses. Weisglass was giving his vision of a future in which Israel would retain several of the larger settlement blocs in Judea Samaria from which Jewish residents would not be removed.

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We are deeply concerned that, even before the forced removal of 10,000 Jews from Gaza and Northern Samaria, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s senior aide is saying that Sharon is preparing for the day when six times as many – 60,000 Jews – will share the same fate. Is it wise to be announcing yet another gigantic concession before the Palestinian Authority has disarmed and dismantled the terror groups, ended incitement, closed bomb factories, arrested terrorists and stopped smuggling arms from the Sinai?

“Are we to understand that the Israeli government intends to removes tens of thousands of Jews from their homes no matter what the Palestinians do or do not do? Are we to understand that another much larger unilateral withdrawal/expulsion is being planned? Are the Jews of Betel, Hebron, Kiryat-arba, Kedumim, Shilo, Eli, and other communities on the wrong side of the security fence are also in danger of being forcibly removed from their homes.

“The ZOA calls upon Prime Minister Sharon to clarify his intentions and to state clearly his policy. The Weisglass statement completely contradicts the statement that Danny Ayalon, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., made to the ZOA Mission to Washington in June. Ayalon said, “there would be no uprooting of Jews anywhere in Judea, Samaria or eastern Jerusalem after the Gaza uprooting. This is the last removal of Jews from the land of Israel.” Weisglass’ statement is also puzzling in light of the fact that Prime Minister Sharon told a group of Jewish leaders at the Blair House in Washington two months ago that there will not be a single additional concession made by Israel until the Palestinian Authority fulfills each and every one of its Road Map obligations. Whom are we to believe – Dov Weisglass, or Ambassador Ayalon.”