Sharon: No major West Bank pullout

Note how this Aug. 30 Associated Press report implicitly accepts Sharon’s language that “the main settlement blocs will remain under Israeli sovereignty.” Of course none of the settlement blocs are under Israeli sovereignty, according to international law.

Sharon: Not all settlements will remain

JERUSALEM (AP) — Not all Israeli settlements in the West Bank will remain in place in a final peace accord with the Palestinians, but there will be no pullbacks comparable to this month’s evacuations, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Monday.

Sharon spoke as a senior Egyptian mediator discussed Gaza border crossings and pried a pledge from Palestinian militants to maintain a truce with Israel despite a surge of violence following the withdrawal from Gaza and part of the West Bank.

Interviewed on Channel 10 TV, Sharon insisted that all of the main settlement blocs would remain under Israeli sovereignty, but “not all the settlements of today in Judea and Samaria will remain,” calling the West Bank by its biblical names.

He was not specific, but he appeared to be referring to small enclaves around Palestinian cities, as opposed to larger ones near the line with Israel.

See our last post on the Gaza disengagement.

  1. Blocs a misnomer, says Arens
    Arens does not include settlements in E. Jerusalem, which is illegally annexed by Israel.

    Last update – 11:24 30/08/2005
    What is Sharon up to?
    By Moshe Arens

    Having expelled some 10,000 Israelis from their homes, just where does Ariel Sharon intend to go from here? This is a question he will be asked, whether he competes for the Likud leadership or whether he intends to run for the Knesset at the head of a new party.

    If he is to be taken at his word, he will from now on concentrate on maintaining Israeli control over the “settlement blocs” in Judea and Samaria. That was a concept he presumably sold to U.S. President George Bush, who in the future is supposed to support their inclusion in Israel’s final borders.

    So what is a settlement bloc, and just where are they located? Who are the fortunate Israeli citizens who do not have to fear expulsion from their homes if Sharon’s policy is implemented?

    Looking at the map of Israeli settlements as they existed until two weeks ago, you might be surprised to find that the largest settlement bloc was the recently destroyed Gush Katif; a large, solid bloc of settlements that did not include a substantial number of Palestinians within its perimeter. That bloc, together with the isolated settlements of Netzarim and Kfar Darom, has now been forcibly evacuated. The small bloc of three settlements south of Ashkelon – Nissanit, Elei Sinai and Dugit – has also been destroyed.

    What else could be defined as a settlement bloc? Gush Etzion plus the settlement of Efrat might well fit that definition, although a substantial number of Palestinians would have to be included within any reasonable perimeter drawn around this bloc and connecting it to Israel’s present border. That’s as far as settlement blocs go.

    There exist a few fairly large settlements located adjacent to the Green Line: Modi’in Ilit, Betar Ilit and Alfei Menashe, and, of course, the single largest settlement, Ma’aleh Adumim, a few kilometers from the Green Line. It would take some stretching of the term settlement bloc to include them in that definition. The many other settlements in Judea and Samaria seem to have been located on the map almost at random, without any thought having been given to creating settlement blocs. They may have been part of Sharon’s dream some years ago, a dream from which he seems to have awakened only recently. More than anyone else, he is responsible for the map of Israeli settlements and the absence of significant settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria. Settlement blocs were evidently not part of his dream.

    Sharon seems to have adopted a conception, which he shares with many Israelis, that any territory turned over to Palestinians, whether unilaterally or as part of an agreement, must first be cleared of any and all Jews living there. That was the logic, if there was any logic, for the recent forcible evacuation of the Jewish population in Gush Katif, the settlements south of Ashkelon, and in northern Samaria. A few months ago, Sharon announced that as of September not a single Jew would be living in the Gaza Strip. That prediction has now been fulfilled. Application of the same logic in Judea and Samaria would involve the forcible evacuation of all Jewish residents there, except those living within the perimeter of the “settlement blocs.”

    It is high time that Israelis ask themselves whether forcibly evicting Jews from their homes in territories turned over to Palestinian control accords with the norms of a democratic society, or can really be viewed as an essential part of peacemaking in the Middle East. It is certainly a concept foreign to Western democratic societies and most unlikely to be adopted by any other democratic government in this day and age. Is it consistent with peaceful relations between Israel and the Palestinians? Would anyone in his right mind propose that a similar concept be applied to Israel’s Arab population, that they be forcibly evicted from their homes as part of a peaceful accommodation between Israel and the Palestinians? What kind of a peace would that be?

    It was many years ago, after World War I, that the population transfer of Greeks from Turkey and Turks from Greece was considered a reasonable “rearrangement” of populations that would serve the interests of peace between the two countries. More recently, the establishment of Pakistan was accompanied by the mass transfer of millions between India and Pakistan, although it is not at all clear that this population transfer contributed to peaceful relations between the countries. We are not likely to see the adoption of these kinds of measures as part of a peace process in the future. There is no reason why Israel and the Palestinians should be the exception. Hopefully we will never again see the eviction of Israeli citizens from their homes for no reason other than that they are Jews.

    1. Does Arens imply…
      that the West Bank settlers will accept living under Palestinian sovereignty? And will peaceably abide by the legal measures that will have to be imposed to redress decades of appropriation of Palestinian land and water?

      1. He’s a windbag
        Arens is full of it, as you know. “For no other reason than that they are Jews”? And this absurd hypothetical of Israeli Arabs being evicted, as if there’s any sort of parallel there? And this high-minded talk of the norms of a democratic society, when the situation in the West Bank makes a mockery of those norms every day? Amazing how good these Likudniks are making Sharon look. Quite an achievement.

        1. Israel backtracks on Ma’aleh Adumim expansion
          Sep. 2, 2005 2:19 | Updated Sep. 2, 2005 9:48
          Israel won’t build near Ma’aleh Adumim

          Israel has given the American administration commitments that it will not build between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim, and that the contested project has been put on hold indefinitely, Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Thursday.

          The comments were the first public confirmation by a top government official that Israel has frozen the controversial building plans in the wake of American pressure.

          “The State of Israel has committed itself to freeze the building,” Olmert said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.

          “As such, we would be acting in an irresponsible manner if we would do otherwise,” he added.

          The long-planned construction of 3,500 housing units on the outskirts of the West Bank settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, as part of a decade-old government proposal which will link the suburban Jerusalem settlement to the capital has been subject to fierce Palestinian and international condemnation, and to American resistance.

          Olmert said that Israel made the commitment to the Americans several months ago when final approval of the plan, known as E1, seemed imminent.

          At the same time, the deputy prime minister stressed that in the future Israel will definitely go ahead with the project, although, with elections on the horizon, he pointedly declined to commit to a date, and said such a move would come only after consultations with the Americans.

          “It is absolutely clear that at a certain point in the future Israel will create continuity between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim, and so there is not even an argument that in the end we will have to build the project,” he said.

          “When the conditions are ripe, we will raise the issue with the Americans again,” he said, adding “it is clear we will not do anything behind the back of the Americans.”

          Olmert noted that the construction of a new police station in the area, which received final government approval this week, would help in cracking down on illegal Palestinian building in the vicinity – construction that could prevent the realization of the plan in the future.

          He added that the construction project was not “an answer” to the mistaken Palestinian notion that Israel pulled out of Gaza due to their attacks but was simply an urban need, and as such the building did not need to get under way in tandem with the disengagement, despite favorable international support which could have made such a move timely.

          Olmert said that Israel was taking a wait and see attitude about how Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas would respond to Israel’s disengagement plan, specifically whether the PA is going to crack down on Palestinian terror groups, as required under the internationally sponsored road map plan.

          “I cannot say that they are doing this, but I believe it is within their power to do so,” he said, noting that the relative quiet during last month’s Gaza pullout showed that when the PA wants quiet they can get it.

          1. JPost: Sharon to split from Likud, evacuate further
            This column by the center-right editor of the Jerusalem Post claims Sharon will bolt Likud if it is taken over by hardliners, and rely on a bloc of votes from Shinui, Labor, part of Likud, and probably Meretz to set the Wall as the new border, keeping 8-15% of the West Bank, which includes E. Jerusalem. 60,000 settlers on the eastern side of the wall will be evacuated, several Sharon advisors including Olmert and Dov Weisglass have said. But Israel will get to keep about 350,000 settlers +, and all the farmland and water sources on the western side of the wall, leaving a rump Palestinian entity w/out the ability to feed itself, or freedom of movement. Jeff Halper has described this.

            Sharon to ‘set out dovish vision

            David Horovitz, THE JERUSALEM POST Sep. 2, 2005
            If Ariel Sharon opts to leave the Likud and runs for election at the head of a new faction, he will set out a vision for Israel’s borders in the West Bank similar to the route of the security barrier with minor additions, The Jerusalem Post has been told. And the prime minister, the Post has also learned, will indeed quit the party if its central committee defies him this month and votes for the leadership contest sought this winter by Binyamin Netanyahu and Uzi Landau.

            Despite discouraging public opinion polls, Sharon has not given up hope of persuading the Likud’s 3,000-plus central committee members later this month to vote down a proposal for the leadership primary. He believes that many in the central committee will ultimately prove disinclined to approve a process essentially designed to unseat a serving prime minister, and that many will also assess that the party will lose a sizable proportion of its Knesset seats if led into a general election by Netanyahu or Landau rather than him.

            If this proves to be the case, and Sharon retains the party leadership for the time being, he’ll maintain his declared, albeit vague, readiness for a resumed political process, confident that the Gaza pullout will liberate Israel from early pressure for further concessions and aware in any case that nothing substantive can take place until after Palestinian parliamentary elections at the end of January.

            If, however, the central committee does vote in favor of a leadership contest, the Post has been told, Sharon will duck that battle, quit the party, set up his own faction and speed toward general elections. He will be more ready to publicly set out a vision for Israel’s borders, and that vision will largely coincide with the route of the security fence – encompassing the major settlement blocs and perhaps 10 percent of the West Bank (the security fence, as currently routed, encompasses some 7%). If realized, this would necessitate the dismantling of dozens of settlements and the relocation of their tens of thousands of residents.

            Although Sharon is well aware of the ignominious fate of numerous previous efforts through the years by defecting politicians to establish powerful new factions, it is noted in his circle that no previous such efforts were led by serving prime ministers. Given his personal popularity nationwide, the international benefits of the Gaza pullout (such as Thursday’s major step toward diplomatic ties with Pakistan), and a robust economy, some of those around Sharon assert that a new party under his leadership could garner 25 seats. It is claimed, however, that no polling on this has yet been carried out, nor consideration even given to the name of such a party.

            Only Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Tourism Minister Avraham Hirchson and Transportation Minister Meir Sheetrit are considered ministerial-level safe-bets to follow Sharon out of the Likud should he bolt.

            A formal “big bang” alliance with Labor and Shinui is thought to be entirely unlikely, not least because it is assessed that these three parties running separately would garner many more Knesset seats than they would together. A pre-election partnership with Shinui’s Lapid, for instance, would alienate many traditional Israeli Jews who might otherwise vote for Sharon.

            Instead, the hopeful assumption in the Sharon camp is that the three parties would join together after elections to form the heart of a ruling coalition.