Livny, during her tenure as Justice Minister several months ago, appointed the committee to look into various aspects of a unilateral withdrawal from most of Judea and Samaria, as planned by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

The committee found a series of problems with the plan, as reported today by Aluf Benn in Haaretz. Among them are legal, security, financial and diplomatic issues, which render the plan essentially non-executable. They include the following:

  • In leaving certain areas, such as eastern Jerusalem, Maaleh Adumim, and Ariel, under Israeli control, the international community is not likely to support the plan, and pressure will continue to be exerted upon Israel.

  • Similarly, the Arabs of the Palestinian Authority will not be satisfied, and will continue terrorist activities against Israel.

  • Jordan fears that handing over the area will lead to unrest amongst its own Palestinian population and instability in the entire country.

  • Hamas will use the areas to fire rockets into Israel, as it is doing in Gaza.

The committee found that the costs of relocating 15,000 families would be tremendously high, but affordable. It was not assigned to look into aspects such as the social rift that would be caused in the country as a result of such a move.

The committee listed a series of some 20 differences between the Gaza Disengagement and Olmert's planned withdrawal from Yesha, each of which works to the detriment of the latter. Among them are:

  • the desire not to give up the entire contested area;

  • the higher altitude of Yesha as compared with Israel's large population centers, giving terrorists a military advantage;

  • important water sources in Yesha;

  • ecological damage in Yesha that could negatively affect Israel, unlike in Gaza where the effects on Israel are negligible.

The conclusions have been submitted to Prime Minister Olmert.

Leading politicians not necessarily associated with the right-wing have come to similar conclusions. Less than two months ago, President Moshe Katzav said that a unilateral pullback from Yesha should not be construed as constituting a diplomatic solution, and even had strong criticism of the unilateral nature of the pullback from Gaza.

A minister in Olmert's own government and party, Housing Minister Meir Sheetrit of the Kadima party, recently expressed his opposition to a unilateral withdrawal from Judea and Samaria. One of the first to join former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in forming Kadima last year, Sheetrit said, "For one thing, 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 would be the point?"

In addition, MK Yossi Beilin, head of the ultra-left Meretz party, said he has warned Olmert not to count on his party's five Knesset votes for his withdrawal plan. Beilin opposes it because the Jews of Yesha would not be transferred out, but would rather remain in large settlement blocs in Yesha.

Just yesterday, opposition politicians Binyamin Netanyahu, Avidgor Lieberman and others said that a clear conclusion from the fighting in Lebanon is that any plan to unilaterally withdraw from territory has no place in Israeli diplomacy.

"We left Lebanon to the last centimeter," Netanyahu told the Knesset yesteray, "and they are firing. We left Gaza to the last centimeter, and they are firing. What we have learned is that if they lay down their arms there will be peace - but if we lay down our arms, they will slaughter us."

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