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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The following is an interview Binyamin Netanyahu gave to the Post days before the implementation of the Gaza withdrawal:
Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu believes that in the aftermath of Israel's upcoming departure, "Gaza will be transformed into a base for Islamic terrorism adjacent to the coast of the State of Israel."
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, Netanyahu said the terror threat that would develop in a post-withdrawal Gaza would be a danger not only for Israel but for the Western world in general.
"This it isn't just our problem,' he claimed. 'It's the West's problem as well because forces that are controlled, deployed and cooperate with Iran - and today Hizbullah and Hamas are controlled in a significant way by Iran - will receive an additional base of operations not only in close proximity to Israel's cities but also on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea not far from Europe."
Netanyahu, who said the majority of the public supported the withdrawal, defended his decision to remain in the government in spite of his strenuous opposition to the withdrawal of IDF units and the expulsion of the 10,000 Israelis who live in the areas.
He argued that the plan enjoyed an automatic majority in the Knesset and the government that would not be affected by his resignation.
The implementation of the plan would cause a deterioration in the security of the communities in the western Negev, Netanyahu warned.
He said the relinquishment of Israeli security control over the international passages to Gaza will 'create a highway for the transfer of terrorists and terror materiel' to the area.
The finance minister expressed his dismay at the decision taken by the police to block protesters en route to demonstrations against the withdrawal in Netivot and Kfar Maimon two weeks ago and to the police intention to repeat the process in the days which preceded this week's demonstration in Sderot and Ofakim.
"I thought that the decision to stop vehicles in distant cities [ahead of the protest in Netivot and Kfar Maimon] was strange, even bizarre. I am not aware of even one instance where in any democracy forces were used to prevent people from gathering for a protest located far away from where they were blocked," he said.
In light of his opposition to the plan, which in his view the Palestinians interpret as a clear victory of their terror war against Israel, Netanyahu plans to vote against the implementation of the withdrawal in the government on Sunday.
Netanyahu stated that in his opinion, Israel must build in the settlements in Judea and Samaria to enable natural growth, must complete the security fence in accordance with the government's decision that places the major settlement blocs inside the perimeter of the fence and must build up the area referred to as E-1 which connects Ma'aleh Adumim to Jerusalem.
Looking ahead to the post-withdrawal period, he added: "Our security problems are not about to go away with the withdrawal, they will only beginÖ¹. As long as I can influence Israel's security, and of course our economy, I will remain in my position."