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Daily Israel Report

Olmert's Unilateral Convergence Plan Gaining Opponents

President Moshe Katzav, ultra-left MK Yossi Beilin, and Kadima Party Minister Meir Sheetrit are the latest to come out against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's unilateral withdrawal plan from Yesha.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 6/29/2006, 11:32 AM / Last Update: 6/29/2006, 2:11 PM

President Katzav, speaking with the Jerusalem Post this week, said another unilateral pullback should not be construed as constituting any kind of a diplomatic solution, and had strong criticism of the unilateral nature of the pullback from Gaza.

Two months ago, at the opening session of the current Knesset, Katzav made a similar point, but refrained from criticizing the government. He said at the time, "The State of Israel made three historic concessions - the Oslo Accords, the Road Map, and the Disengagement - but as of now, we have not received anything in return."

Now, however, he is holding nothing back, saying that the fact that Israel has not received a return is the fault of recent prime ministers and governments. Katzav said that the Israeli government has consistently failed to carry out preparatory work before its major diplomatic moves, and does not have a "map of vital Israeli national and security interests" guiding it.

Katzav's remarks were reminiscent of those made earlier this month by outgoing National Security Advisor Gen. (ret.) Giora Eiland.

Speaking with Ari Shavit of Haaretz, Eiland - who was responsible for drawing up the logistical plans for Ariel Sharon's Disengagement from Gaza - said Israel missed a "historic opportunity" to receive something in return for quitting Gaza. He added that he also thinks Olmert's latest plan, to withdraw unilaterally from most of Judea and Samaria, will not succeed. Eiland also said that the decision-making process of the Israeli government in these matters is lacking and faulty.

Another politician not associated with the right-wing, Housing Minister Meir Sheetrit of Kadima - one of the first to join Ariel Sharon in forming the new Kadima party last year - says that he opposes a unilateral withdrawal from Judea and Samaria.

Sheetrit said today that though he very much favored the Disengagement, he believes that Judea and Samaria is a very different situation. "For one thing," he said, "in Gaza, we withdrew all the way to an internationally recognized border, whereas that will not be the case in Judea and Samaria. So what will be the point?" Sheetrit said that he has always been opposed to Olmert's plan.

In addition, MK Yossi Beilin, head of the ultra-left Meretz party, said that he has warned Olmert not to count on his party's five Knesset votes for his withdrawal plan. He opposes it because the Jews of Yesha would not be transferred out, but would rather remain in large settlement blocs in Yesha. Beilin also said that the ten Arab-party MKs would not vote for such a plan, leaving Olmert with only 55 MKs supporting it: Kadima (29), Labor (19), and Pensioners (7).