Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sent a message to delegates of the General Assembly calling for unity in the Jewish world. "Even though I cannot be there with you, I am pleased to know that you are demonstrating the unity of the Jewish world," Sharon said. "Our unity at this time is crucial." Following Israel's withdrawal from Gaza this summer, Sharon said it is now time to "move forward together." "Implementing disengagement was very difficult and very painful," he said. "It was necessary, however, in order to preserve a Jewish and democratic Israel, with permanent, secure and recognized borders. Only this way can we ensure Israel as a homeland for generations to come." Sharon commended the GA for its "Operation Promise" and its role in promoting aliya from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union. "Your support for this program shows that Jews spread throughout the world truly are one people," he said.