Israel Again Impatient to Make Peace - Even Without Partner

The Foreign Affairs and Defense Ministries have set up a joint task force to prepare a plan for another one-sided disengagement - this time, from Judea and Samaria. The PA does not agree.

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Hillel Fendel , | updated: 13:38

Israel's second-largest daily, Maariv, reports that taking part in the on-paper preparations for a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria are also IDF and General Security Service (Shabak) officials.

The Prime Minister's Office's official comment to the Maariv report: "We know nothing about such a plan."

The plan currently being worked on in the Foreign Affairs Ministry, together with the Defense Ministry, includes the establishment of a PA state - even without the consent of the Palestinian Authority.

Prime Minister Olmert has flip-flopped in the past on another Disengagement. One of the original champions of the unilateral withdrawal from Gush Katif and northern Shomron, he led the Kadima Party to victory in last year's national election on a platform of unilateral withdrawal from Yesha.

During the Lebanon War, he was roundly attacked for saying that a victory would bring such a withdrawal closer. He later withdrew these remarks, and even said that a withdrawal from Yesha - which he called a Convergence - was no longer on the agenda. He later said he believed the plan was "no longer relevant."

Following Olmert's above comment, Interior Minister Roni Bar-On of Kadima said, "The withdrawal plan is not dead, though its implementation has been postponed. The plan is now on the shelf or in the freezer, but when the time comes it will be accessed."

Just two weeks ago, Olmert told the Chinese news agency Xinhua that unilateral withdrawal has proven to be a failed policy, and that a withdrawal from most of Judea and Samaria would only be done in the framework of bilateral negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

Foreign Minister Tzippy Livny has appointed Yossi Amrani, former Israeli consul in San Francisco, to oversee work on the plan, Maariv reports. Amrani's team must prepare the plan and present it within the coming weeks. It is to include various aspects of the establishment of a Palestinian state with temporary borders to be unilaterally determined by Israel. The way will be left open for border changes in the future, if the PA begins to cooperate.

A withdrawal from Judea and Samaria means the destruction of an untold number of Jewish communities and the expulsion of many more thousands of Jews than those expelled from Gush Katif. Most of the latter are still without permanent homes or jobs.

The plan in the works is predicated upon the assumption that the PA will not succeed in forming a Fatah-Hamas unity government in the near future, and that therefore the Hamas-led PA will continue to refuse to recognize Israel's existence. It is also assumed that PA Chairman Abu Mazen (Fatah) will never be strong enough to sign agreements with Israel.

The Prime Minister's Office's denial must be taken in context with a similar denial last week of Israeli-Syrian contacts; today, the PM's office confirmed that such contacts had taken place.


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