Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Olmert Outlines West Bank Withdrawal

Ehud Olmert, acting Prime Minister for debilitated Israeli leader Ariel Sharon and front runner in the upcoming Israeli elections, has laid out his step-by-step plan for separating the Israeli and Palestinian populations. The plan is to complete the fence, which has been so contentious to date, giving Palestine much of the West Bank, and much more than they would have received in the Sharon plan. However, the plan does not give Palestine back some major settlements, and it also calls for a unified Jerusalem under Israeli rule.

Israel "will separate from most of the Palestinian population that lives in the West Bank, and that will obligate us to separate as well from territories where the State of Israel currently is," Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said.

"We will gather ourselves into the main settlement blocs and preserve united Jerusalem... Ma'aleh Adumim, Gush Etzion and Ariel will be part of the state of Israel," Olmert told Channel 2 television.

"The direction is clear," he continued. "We are moving toward separation from the Palestinians, toward setting Israel's permanent border."

Olmert indicated that Israel would keep three major settlements, Ariel, Ma’aele Adunim, and Gush Etzion, which are all teritories allong the Jordanian border, in the Jordan valley. The settlements are home to over 85,000 Israelis, and are considered essential to Israel’s defense. Israel will give back the highly contested village of Batir, but the status of the settlements Hebron, Beit El, and Ofra remain a question mark. Sharon intended to leave those settlements in Israeli hands.

Prime Minister Olmert, while I applaud your realization that Israel needs to give more land back to the Palestinians, peace can not be achieved without negotiation. As long as the Palestinians are not part of the negotiating process, they are not determining their own destiny, and that is not an acceptable answer. The Palestinians do not only need their land returned, they also need their pride returned. Talk with their elected government, and find a settlement that works for both sides.

Posted by Scottage at 1:26 AM / | |