Hamas seething over Israel's West Bank plans
The leader of Hamas has reacted with fury to the plans outlined by Israel's acting prime minister to unilaterally redraw Israel's borders on the West Bank by 2010. Khaled Mashal described the ideas for an imposed solution in the occupied territories with no negotiation with the Palestinians as tantamount to a "declaration of war".
Mr Olmert says, in interviews published in several major Israeli newspapers today, that he wants to impose a border in the West Bank, build a wall and move many Jewish settlers to the Israeli side - all with backing from the international community.
|Isn't that what you guys said was going on anyways?|
While the plan would involve uprooting some Jewish settlements, it also would retain portions of the West Bank and strengthen the main settlements in those areas. Israel also would retain control over Jerusalem and link a large settlement to the city.
The plan falls well short of the Palestinians' claims - supported by the United Nations - to be restored to all of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, from which they were driven after the 1967 Middle East war.
"This is not a peace plan, but a war declaration, which will permit Israel to stay in the largest section of the West Bank, to maintain their wall and settlements, to refuse all concessions on Jerusalem and to reject the Palestinians right of return," said Mr Mashal.
|Remind me how that war started? And how the Jordanians and Paleos back then were provoking a fight? You guys wanted a war and you got one. Just not the one you hoped for.|
"It is a unilateral disengagement by Israel in the interest of its security needs and not the demands of peace," said Mashal.
|That's a good summary, yup.|
"Olmert is in the process of committing the same errors toward the Palestinians that (Ariel) Sharon did."
|Since what Olmert is charged with is protecting the people of Israel, I'd say he has his priorities right.|
For his part, Mr Olmert says today that he still hopes to reach a settlement with the Palestinians, but the chances of a deal have dimmed with Hamass victory. Israel says that it will deal with the militant group only if it renounces violence and its calls for destruction of the Jewish state. Hamas has repeatedly rejected such demands.
|Always amusing to listen to a Paleo lecture others about political errors.|
Mr Olmert has also threatened to assassinate the incoming Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniya, if he is involved in terrorism. "Anyone who is involved in planning terror attacks will be a legitimate target for liquidation," he told the Yediot Ahronot daily.
|Leaving them with no other choice but to build the wall. Clever, those Paleos, real clever.|
If the Palestinians "prefer to be dragged into the axis of evil of Iran", then Israel will draw its own border in the West Bank based on its security needs, he added. "At the end of the process we will reach a complete separation from the vast majority of the Palestinian population," he told the Maariv daily.
|I'd be flying Apaches over Ismail's head every day just as a reminder.|
"When Israel commits to pulling back to 1967 borders, including East Jerusalem, destroying the wall, dismantling the settlements, recognising refugees and displaced Palestinians right to return, and frees all the prisoners, then Hamas will take serious measures toward peace," Mashal told the AFP news agency.
Mr Olmert said the new border would not follow the exact route of the separation barrier Israel is building in the West Bank. He told Yediot that he would try to work with Jewish settler leaders to try to get them to agree to the new line, moving settlers into settlements he plans to incorporate into Israel.
|In other words, the Israelis give up something, and Hamas gives up ... nothing. Classic Soviet negotiating ploy.|
"We will definitely change the route either east or west in accordance to internal Israeli agreement," he told the paper. "The fence that will be built ... will be the border line that will separate Israel and the Palestinians. Israelis will not live beyond the fence."
In the absence of peace talks, Mr Olmerts unilateral approach is meant to solve Israels main security problems. It follows unilateral pullout from the Gaza Strip last summer under the premiership of Ariel Sharon.
|Changing the route east ... good. Keeps the Paleos off balance.|
Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian negotiator, urged Israel to return to the bargaining table. "Israel cannot determine my borders by dictating them to me. That only prolongs the conflict, rather than solving it," he said.
President Bush has backed Israels claims to retaining some settlement blocs, but American officials have reacted coolly to Israeli claims on Ariel. Washington has also expressed displeasure over Israeli plans to link Maaleh Adumim to Jerusalem, despite Mr Olmerts assertion in Yediot that the US "has no doubt" that this will happen.
|Reeeeeeeeally? Care to bet on that? Big wall. Security forces. Guns. Apaches. Counter-battery fire. I bet they can determine the borders.|
|We'll get used to it. It'll become a fact on the ground.|
Posted by: Steve White 2006-03-12