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The Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen (Ireland having Presidency of the EU at the time), announced the European Union's disapproval of the plan's limited scope in that it does not address withdrawal from the entire West Bank. He said that the EU "will not recognize any change to the pre-1967 borders other than those arrived at by agreement between the parties." However, Europe has given tentative backing to the Disengagement Plan as part of the road map for peace.

Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General, commended on August 18, 2005[95] what he called Israeli Prime Minister Sharon's "courageous decision" to carry through with the painful process of disengagement, expressed the hope that "both Palestinians and Israelis will exercise restraint in this challenging period", and "believes that a successful disengagement should be the first step towards a resumption of the peace process, in accordance with the Road Map", referring to the plan sponsored by the diplomatic Quartet – UN, EU, Russia, and the United States – which calls for a series of parallel steps leading to two states living side-by-side in peace by the end of the year.

Ibrahim GambariIbrahim Gambari, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, told the Security Council on August 24, 2005:[96]

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Israel has demonstrated that it has the requisite maturity to do what would be required to achieve lasting peace, and the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) has demonstrated their ability to discharge their mission with carefully calibrated restraint. Prime Minister Sharon should be commended for his determination and courage to carry out the disengagement in the face of forceful and strident internal opposition.

The PA, in the absence of a final peace settlement, has welcomed any military withdrawal from the territories, but many[who?] Palestinian Arabs have objected to the plan, stating that it aims to "bypass"[This quote needs a citation] past international agreements, and instead call for a complete withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza Strip.[citation needed] Their suspicions were further aroused[according to whom?] when top Sharon aide Dov Weisglass was quoted in an interview with Israeli newspaper Haaretz on October 6, 2004, as saying that the disengagement would prevent a Palestinian state for years to come (see above). This incident has bolstered the position of critics of the plan that Sharon is intentionally trying to scuttle the peace process.[97] Israeli officials, including Weisglass, denied this accusation, and media critics have asserted that the Weisglass interview was widely distorted and taken out of context.[citation needed]

On August 8, 2005, Haaretz quoted a top Palestinian Authority religious cleric, Sheikh Jamal al-Bawatna, the mufti of the Ramallah district, in a fatwa (a religious edict) banning shooting attacks against Israeli security forces and settlements, out of concern they might lead to a postponement of the pullout. According to Haaretz, this is the first time that a Muslim cleric has forbidden shooting at Israeli forces.[98]

On August 15, 2005, scenes of delight took place across the Arab world, following the long-ingrained suspicion that the disengagement would not take place.[99][100]

A September 15, 2004 survey published in Maariv showed that:

  • 69% supported a general referendum to decide on the plan; 26% thought tha

    Polls on support for the plan have consistently shown support for the plan in the 50–60% range, and opposition in the 30–40% range. A June 9, 2005, Dahaf Institute/Yedioth Ahronoth poll showed support for the plan at 53%, and opposition at 38%.[103] A June 17, telephone poll published in Maariv showed 54% of Israel's Jews supporting the plan. A poll carried out by the Midgam polling company, on June 29 found support at 48% and opposition at 41%,[104] but a Dahaf Institute/Yedioth Ahronot poll of the same day found support at 62% and opposition at 31%.[103] A poll conducted the week of July 17 by the Tel Aviv University Institute for Media, Society, and Politics shows that Israeli approval of the disengagement is at 48%; 43% of the respondents believe that Palestinian terrorism will increase following disengagement, versus 25% who believe that terrorism will decline.[105]

    On July 25, 2004, the "Human Chain", a rally of tens of thousands of Israelis to protest against the plan and for a national referendum took place. The protestors formed a human chain from Nisanit (later moved to Erez Crossing because of security concerns) in the Gaza Strip to the human chain from Nisanit (later moved to Erez Crossing because of security concerns) in the Gaza Strip to the Western Wall in Jerusalem a distance of 90 km.[106] On October 14, 2004, 100,000 Israelis marched in cities throughout Israel to protest the plan under the slogan "100 cities support Gush Katif and Samaria".[107]

    On May 16, 2005, a nonviolent protest was held throughout the country, with the protesters blocking major traffic arteries throughout Israel. The protest was sponsored by "HaBayit HaLeumi", and was hailed by them as a success, with over 400 protestors arrested, half of them juveniles. Over 40 intersections throughout the country were blocked, including:

    On June 9, 2005, a poll on Israeli Channel 2 showed that public support for the plan had fallen below 50 percent for the first time.

    On July 18, 2005, a nonviolent protest was held. The protest began in Netivot near Gaza. The protest march ended July 21 after police prevented protesters from continuing to Gush Katif. On August 2, 2005, another protest against disengagement began in Sderot, wi

    On July 18, 2005, a nonviolent protest was held. The protest began in Netivot near Gaza. The protest march ended July 21 after police prevented protesters from continuing to Gush Katif. On August 2, 2005, another protest against disengagement began in Sderot, with approximately 50,000 attendees. On August 10, 2005, in response to calls from Jewish religious leaders, including former Chief Rabbis Avraham Shapira, Ovadia Yosef, and Mordechai Eliyahu, between 70,000 (police estimate) and 250,000 (organizers' estimate) Jews gathered for a rally centered at the Western Wall in prayer to ask that the planned disengagement be cancelled. The crowds that showed up for the rally overwhelmed the Western Wall's capacity and extended as far as the rest of the Old City and surrounding Jerusalem neighborhoods. The prayer rally was the largest of its kind for over 15 years, since the opposition to the Madrid Conference of 1991.[citation needed][108][109][110][111] On August 11, 2005, between 150,000 (police estimates) and 300,000 (organizers' estimates) people massed in and around Tel Aviv's Rabin Square for an anti-disengagement rally. Organizers called the event "the largest expression of public protest ever held in Israel."[citation needed] According to a police spokesman, it was one of the largest rallies in recent memory.[112]

    Those advocating suspension or cancellation of the plan have often quoted one or more of these arguments:

    Orange ribbons in Israel symbolize opposition to the disengagement; it is the color of the flag of the Gaza coast Regional Council. Blue ribbons (sometimes blue-and-white ribbons) symbolized support for the disengagement and are intended to invoke the Israeli flag.

    American opinions

    Polls in the U.S. about the question of the Gaza pullout produced varied results. One poll commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League, and conducted by the Marttila Communications Group from June 19–23, 2005 among 2200 American adults, found that 71% of respondents felt that the Disengagement Plan is closer to a "bold step that would advance the Peace Process" than to a "capitulation to terrorist violence", while 12% felt that the plan is more of a "capitulation" than a "bold step".

    Another poll commissioned by the Zionist Organization of America, and conducted by McLaughlin & Associates on June 26, 2005 – June 27, 2005, with a sample of 1,000 American adults, showed U.S. opposition to the proposed disengagement. Respondents, by a margin of 4 to 1 (63% to 16%) opposed "Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from a section of Gaza and northern Samaria and forcing 10,000 Israeli Jews from their homes and businesses" and by a margin of 2.5 to 1 (53% to 21%), agreed with the statement that "this Gaza Plan sends a message that Arab terrorism is being rewarded."

    Morton Klein, President of the Zionist Organization of America, criticized the Anti-Defamation League-commissioned poll, stating that the question in the poll was not whether or not respondents agreed with the Disengagement Plan, but was a subjective characterization of primary motives behind it: whether Israeli politicians

    Polls in the U.S. about the question of the Gaza pullout produced varied results. One poll commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League, and conducted by the Marttila Communications Group from June 19–23, 2005 among 2200 American adults, found that 71% of respondents felt that the Disengagement Plan is closer to a "bold step that would advance the Peace Process" than to a "capitulation to terrorist violence", while 12% felt that the plan is more of a "capitulation" than a "bold step".

    Another poll commissioned by the