The Gaza settlers, still living in hotels or tents, are doing it for political reasons. Their purpose is to pressure the government. We’re implementing the carrot-and-stick policy: we negotiate with them and at the same time we tell them they’ll have to defray the costs if they don’t want to leave. The withdrawal plan has been painful for the Israeli people, but the majority does not complain. Of course, they wonder what will happen with the West Bank but the situation there is more complicated than in Gaza. It’s difficult to implement a plan since we have to keep two elements in mind: we must eliminate the illegal settlements in the West Bank and we must conclude the security fence that so effectively protects us and without which we wouldn’t have been able to evacuate Gaza.
We respect Abbas and we believe they’re being sincere, although their position is difficult. He must rule a regime that became completely corrupt under Arafat and which promoted terror. The whole machinery under his control worked against him and, lately, against the interests the Palestinian. The main problem is Hamas which does not want to lay down arms.
We believe Abbas can disarm Hamas, which is absolutely necessary. A party advocating the destruction of Israel should not participate in the Palestinian elections. Israel took a crucial step when it decided to withdraw from Gaza; now, it’s Abbas’ turn.
The withdrawal has brought about several changes; the Likud is completely divided. Many of its members did not understand that from being the founder of settlements Sharon would become the father of the withdrawal plan. Later, the coup led by Netanyahutook place. If Sharon is re-elected we’ll continue as members of the coalition; but, if he is not, a revolution in our political scenario will take place. The prospects are not good either for our Labour party or the Shinui party. Netanyahu is smart but neither trustworthy nor serious. He was not a bad finance minister, but he has a very problematic side.

Die Welt (Germany)

"Der Zaun schützt uns effektiv vor Terror", by Isaac Herzog, Die Welt, September 24, 2005. Text adapted from an interview.