Daily Israel Report

Sharon Tells NY: Most of Yesha Up For Grabs

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told American Jewish leaders that Maaleh Adumim, Gush Etzion and Ariel will stay in the hands of Israel forever - but that the rest of Yesha is negotiable.
First Publish: 5/24/2005, 1:23 PM / Last Update: 5/23/2005, 11:55 PM

Sharon spoke at an Israel Bonds event in New York yesterday, and was heckled by several of the 1,500 fund-raisers in the audience. Sharon said that the status of other areas of Judea and Samaria are subject to the "final phase of the permanent agreement negotiations and talks."

Most media reports on his speech ignored Sharon's implication leaving in doubt the future of communities of about 1,000 families each, such as Beit El, Ginot Shomron, and Kedumim. Sharon added that disarming terrorists is a condition for the talks on a land-for-peace accord.

Prime Minister Sharon will continue and enhance this theme in his address today to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), according to an Army Radio report. Sharon will say that final-arrangement negotiations with the Palestinian Authority will include a discussion on all of Judea and Samaria. Sharon plans to first fence off and temporarily annex the Jewish population centers in Judea and Samaria - a situation that will apply only until the negotiations are concluded.

Sharon emphasized again that an end to terror must precede entry to the Road Map phase. "It should be completely quiet [with] an end of terror, dismantling of terrorist organizations, collecting their weapons, stopping the smuggling… that will enable us to enter the Road Map," the Prime Minister stated.

Sharon won strong backing from American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who spoke Monday to AIPAC. Sharon is to address AIPAC in Washington today.

Rice criticized Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) for not destroying the terrorist infrastructure. She also insisted that the PA accept Western-style democracy, "a goal that is unassailable and incontrovertible."

The PA has promised to stage democratic legislative elections July 17, but its election committee announced Monday that the elections could not be held on time. The stated reason: administrative work cannot be completed in time. Hamas terrorists have charged that PA officials are afraid to hold elections as planned because of the growing strength of Hamas.

Rice has said that she welcomes Hamas' acceptance of democratic elections because this will encourage the terrorist organization to use politics and not violence for its objectives. Both Hamas and Abu Mazen's Fatah party have a common goal of making Jerusalem the capital of a new Arab state in all of Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

Abu Mazen, successor to Yasser Arafat, is to meet with President George W. Bush on Thursday.