Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

16 Tammuz 5766 - July 12, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Second Thoughts About Realignment?

by M Plaut and Yated Ne'eman Staff

Senior members of Kadima openly expressed doubts about future pullbacks planned under Prime Minister Olmert's much- discussed plans, but Olmert himself expressed a resolve to continue in any case.

"The chances right now of implementing realignment are very small. There are many reservations, including my own," Construction and Housing Minister Meir Shetreet said Monday. "I don't believe in another unilateral withdrawal. What is going on in Gaza reinforces the opposition to realignment."

Shetreet said his position reflected that of former prime minister Ariel Sharon. "Without peace I'm not prepared to give an inch," Shetreet said.

And Shetreet was not alone. Minister of Immigrant Absorption Ze'ev Boim, a close Olmert confidant, said that although he felt realignment was strategically the best plan to set Israel's permanent borders, the current security situation made the plan "irrelevant."

"The big question is whether it could be done when the cannons are firing. I don't know if it's possible. I'm sure it's not the right time," he said.

The prime minister wants to withdraw from most of the West Bank by 2010 to allow the Palestinians to gain independence and to secure a long-term Jewish majority for Israel.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni also said that Israel needs to protect its security interests during the convergence, and warned against a hasty unilateral move.

"If someone thought that convergence is a way of throwing the key over the fence and walking away, while thinking that everything will be alright — that is not my thinking. And the convergence will not be like that, because there are interests that we must take into account, primarily the security of the State of Israel," she said.

Avi Dichter, a former Shin Bet chief and current public security minister, said that the Israel Defense Forces must stay "everywhere" in the West Bank even after dismantling settlements there, "until a Palestinian entity is found that can take responsibility."

Olmert told a Jerusalem press conference that he remained committed to the plan, although the situation in Gaza made matters more difficult.

Olmert said that neither Hamas's election nor the recent events in Gaza have changed his "basic commitment" to the realignment plan. He said he remained "absolutely determined to carry on in order to ultimately separate from the Palestinians and establish the secure borders that will be recognized by the international community and at the same time that will allow Palestinians contiguous territory where they can have their own state."

Olmert described the plan as "basically a concept of gradually separating the Israelis from the Palestinians." He said that Israel wanted to separate "in a friendly manner" from the Palestinians.

An Olmert associate said, "We are sure that Shetreet will change his mind when he sees the plan and we are even more sure that Shetreet will respect the future decisions of the government and faction discipline inside Kadima."

Olmert also rejected the idea that the current events in Gaza show that disengagement was a failure. He said that the situation now was "much better" for Israel than it was before disengagement.

"Can you imagine how [much] more deadly the shooting of Kassam missiles would be if 17 settlements would be within 200-500 meters of Palestinian centers in Gaza?" he asked.

Olmert declined to give any timetable for the Gaza operation.

"We are operating cautiously, resolutely and patiently in the Gaza Strip, and therefore, we will not announce how long the operation will continue," he told Kadima members.

Olmert said Operation Summer Rains shows the terror organizations that terrorism does not pay, and said maintaining the balance between operational effectiveness and limited harm to civilians will bring security to Negev residents.


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