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Olmert´s Plan: Destroy Most Yesha Communities

Ehud Olmert plans to withdraw tens of thousands of Jews from Judea/Samaria. The right-wing warns: The areas will be taken over by Hamas, leaving the army defenseless.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 3/5/2006, 2:13 PM / Last Update: 3/5/2006, 10:05 AM

The plan, as outlined last night by Kadima Knesset candidate Avi Dichter, a former head of the General Security Service (Shabak), calls for razing most of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and relocating their residents in those that remain.

Dichter, #5 on the Kadima list of Knesset candidates, spoke to an audience in Holon.

The new Kadima plan would leave Israel with four or five isolated pockets of Israeli presence: a narrow finger 20 kilometers long from Rosh HaAyin to Ariel in the Shomron; parts of the Jordan Valley; and strips to the north, east, and south of Jerusalem. The rest of Judea and Samaria would become what many politicians have lately referred to as Hamastan.

The communities that are to remain, according to the plan Olmert wishes to implement if he wins the elections, have long been mentioned as the "settlement blocs" of Ariel, Maaleh Adumim and Gush Etzion. Karnei Shomron-Kedumim and the Jordan Valley have, occasionally, also been included in what might remain Israeli territory.

What is new about the Kadima plan, according to Dichter, is that several other communities are to remain as well - at least for the medium range. These include Kiryat Arba and Ofrah-Beit El. In addition, Dichter added, the areas that are to remain Israeli will be strengthened with the addition of the tens of thousands of residents expelled from the other areas.

Dichter explained that Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is of the opinion that if Hamas does not change its stance, which calls for the destruction of Israel and certainly no negotiations with Israel, then there will be no choice but to carry out further unilateral moves. He is now trying to persuade the U.S. and other foreign entities of this.

Dichter said that Israel would withdraw only civilians, but would retain its military presence in those areas until the PA is willing and able to combat terror and implement law and order.

MK Effie Eitam (National Union) said that removing only the civilians and leaving the army is "total nonsense." He said that it would not gain Israel any "political, diplomatic or military dividends," as it would displace additional tens of thousands of Jews while leaving the army alone in territory controlled by Hamas. In addition, it would not help Israel "set future borders," as Kadima claims, "because there is no such thing as permanent borders with Hamas on the other side."

Likud Knesset faction head MK Gideon Saar said the new Kadima plan is a "prize for Hamas." "The areas to be evacuated by Israel will immediately become new Hamas bases for attack against Israel and its citizens," Saar said.

Olmert has mentioned the two-state Road Map, a plan designed by U.S. President George Bush, less and less of late. The plan, which was approved - with 14 reservations - by the Sharon government in May 2003, calls for the establishment of a state headed by the Palestinian Authority side-by-side with Israel. Olmert feels that the ascent to power of Hamas, which has no intention of recognizing Israel, makes a two-state solution irrelevant.

Among the communities to be erased under Ehud Olmert's plan would be the following:
In the Binyamin Regional Council, north of Jerusalem:
Shilo, Eli, Shvut Rachel, N’vei Tzuf, Psagot, Maaleh Michmas, and Maaleh Levonah.

In eastern Gush Etzion:
Tekoa, Nokdim (El-David), Maaleh Amos and Meitzad.

In Samaria Council and northern Samaria:
Kedumim, Itamar, Yitzhar, Elon Moreh, Har Bracha, Avnei Cheifetz, Mevo Dotan, Hermesh and Tapuach.

In southern Judea:
Adora, Pnei Hever, Maon, Susia, Otniel, Negohot, and Mitzpeh Shalem.

Avigdor Lieberman, head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, sharply criticized the Kadima plan. "All talk of additional retreats in Yesha is irresponsible," he said, "as it strengthens Hamas, weakens Israel, and encourages terrorism." He warned that mortar shelling attempts would soon start from the areas under discussion, "just as occurred in the areas near Gaza such as Ashkelon."