Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon intends to press with his efforts for unilateral separation from the Palestinian autonomy, despite the results of a referendum held in the Likud ruling party.
60% of Likud's members that have a right of vote yesterday voted against Sharon's initiative.
"Those who hope that the referendum's results will paralyze the government are mistaken," the Prime Minister announced on Monday at a session of the Likud parliamentary faction.
Sharon said he "respected the choice made by the members of his party", but would submit the plan for withdrawal of troops and evacuation of settlers from the Gaza Strip for endorsement of the Cabinet and then the Knesset (parliament).
Assessing the vote's results leader of the main opposition party Avoda Shimon Peres called for immediate parliamentary elections.
"It is unacceptable for a hundred thousand people to determine the fate of ten millions, including the population of the Palestinian autonomy. Today's Knesset no longer represents the opinion of all people," he said.
Transport minister Avigdor Liberman said he was satisfied with the outcome of the vote. In his opinion, most of the referendum's participants voted against "the implausible and dangerous program", fulfillment of which would become yet another concession to terrorists.
As to the future of the ruling coalition after the referendum, Liberman pointed out that "it is Sharon's plan, not Sharon himself that has failed" and expressed his hope that the Prime Minister and his team would draw adequate conclusions and would not "drive the country into political squabbles".
Roman Bronsman, an MP from the Democratic Choice party, believes that Likud has chosen the wrong path. In his opinion, the plan of unilateral separation is the only way out in the current situation. Voting against it, Likud members broke away from other Israeli citizens, almost 75% of whom support the idea of leaving Gaza, Bronsman emphasized.
"The referendum's results are quite logical," well-known analyst Eliezer Feldman, director of a social and political research center told the agency. The outcome shows the means and forces the opponents of the plan invested in their campaign, he said.
"Despite the results of the referendum, elimination of settlements is inevitable. Sharon has staked his political career on this task. He will definitely continue work in the same direction, but will be more cautious," Feldman believes.