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Ehud Olmert: 'There Is No Palestinian Partner Who Can Negotiate A Roadmap Peace Deal & Make It Stick'

'To Preserve Jewish State, Israel Must Withdraw Unilaterally From Densely-Populated Arab Parts Of West Bank'

'Israel Must Not Withdraw To 1967 Lines & Jerusalem Must Remain United Under Israeli Control'

Ehud Olmert - February 2004

Who is Israel's acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and what is his approach to the Palestinian issue? With doctors working to save the life of Ariel Sharon In Jerusalem's Hadassah hospital, Olmert will likely serve as prime minister until the March 28th general election. If the Kadima party wins that election, Olmert would then form a new coalition government. In the corridors of power throughout the Middle East and around the world, questions are being asked about who may be Ariel Sharon's political successor. In an address back in February 2004, the now Acting Prime Minister of Israel spelled out how he views the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

Maariv 08.01.2006 - Ariel Sharon's 'Day of Truth'

'Israel must withdraw from densely-populated Arab areas of the West Bank to preserve the identity of Israel as a Jewish state. But there will be no withdrawal to the former 1967 lines' - that has been the position of Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

In presenting Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan in February 2004, Ehud Olmert spelled out his approach to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. At that time, Olmert could see no Palestinian partner who could negotiate a peace deal with Israel and 'make it stick'. On the contrary, the Palestinians would prefer to keep Israel stuck in the current status quo. They would exploit the violence and bloodshed to exert international pressure on Israel. In light of this, Israel should withdraw unilaterally not only from the Gaza Strip but also 'from the densely populated Arab parts of the West Bank'. His idea was 'to include a maximum of Jews and a minimum of Arabs behind Israel's separation fence on the West Bank'. But Olmert also declared there must be no return to the former lines of 1967 and Jerusalem must remain united under Israeli control. Olmert warned that unless Israel implemented such a policy, a bi-national state would evolve. The Jewish minority in that future state would then have to fight for minority rights.

IsraCast invites listeners to tune in to Ehud Olmert presenting his views on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute:

Excerpts from Ehud Olmert's Speech:

If the Status Quo is no good and if there can be no agreement then there is only one way to deal with this situation, to do what is good for us unilaterally and to do it according to what is good for Israel and what serves best Israeli interests, that's what we want to do. And that has to be based on the following principles:

Number one - maximum Jews; number two - minimum Arabs; number three, of course - 'a separating fence'. I am even ready to say 'wall'. I don't care; I don't know why we have to apologize all the time for it.

We want to stop terror, we are ready to sit down and negotiate. They are not ready to negotiate. We have to do something in order to reduce the level of terror to the inevitable minimum. That will not stop terror, a fence will not stop terror, a wall will not stop terror, it will continue, but it can be reduced dramatically by these measures and it can make life much easier. And according to these parameters: with maximum Arabs outside and maximum Jews inside, if we do it smartly and correctly, which is hard for us because we are experts in taking and using every opportunity to make a mistake. But still, if we do it more or less in that direction. Then there is a good chance that we will reduce the level of conflict on a day-to-day basis to a different rate altogether.

.Now, you know, the Palestinians are dreaded by the opportunity that we will take unilateral measures. They hate the idea that frightens them more than anything else. And I'll tell you why? If we do not make a comprehensive, permanent agreement that will satisfy them altogether then we'd rather be stuck where we are today, because where we are today serves them better than any other situation. They want us to be stuck in Gaza and in the Territories and have these pictures and have these confrontations and these occasional killings of civilians because they know how to manipulate it to serve their purpose. To increase the pressure on Israel and to make Israel pay a lot more.

What they are not prepared for is that Israel will pullout from the densely populated areas by Palestinians, both in the West Bank and in Gaza. But that will definitely not go back to the '67 lines will definitely keep the city of Jerusalem united, but that will change the atmosphere about the conflict dramatically. Because once the majority of Palestinians will not be under the day-to-day control of the Israeli military, this conflict will not be as sexy as it is today to the international press. It will cease to be front-page everywhere. There will not be a reason for front-page everywhere. There will not be soldiers, and tanks and military confronting civilian population. It will be one of those conflicts which people care about which happen in many parts of the world. It will not be the most attractive the most exciting event to write about and deal with on a day-to-day basis. And of course that is the worst that can happen to the Palestinians. But it is not so bad because it will happen to us, the question is I know, everyone will probably ask well it happened, what are you guys up for, are you going to accomplish it? Is the government ready to do it? Naturally it is not easy.

.But by the way, all those that complain amongst us, I say to them: Listen! Don't be a hypocrite! When you supported the Roadmap you supported something which potentially will demand from Israel a lot more, then something like firm measures and not only did you support it, you stayed with the coalition and continued to support the government knowing that at the end of the day, if we are genuine and this is the policy of the government, and we will have to accomplish it not unilaterally, through an agreement, then the Roadmap really is interpreted by a lot in the world to call for the complete withdrawal to the '67 lines. So you are not ready for the limited unilateral measures but you support the Roadmap which calls for the withdrawal to the '67 lines. But OK, focus is part of the game everywhere, so it may happen also here. But I think that still it will be a very difficult political agenda, its not easy because it will almost inevitably require some dramatic changes within the government first and subsequently also maybe in the entire political make-up in Israel. But this is a serious matter and that I say in order to answer those who question the level of commitment of the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister is absolutely committed to carryout this policy, there can be no question about it!

.It has been determined by Oslo, it has been determined by the Roadmap, it has been determined when Sharon says he is for a two state solution, or do you think when he said a two state solution he thought that a Palestinian State will be in India? or in China? or In Arabia, or in the West Bank? So there should be nothing surprising about this basic approach. The question is, whether this was just a manipulation, or we never meant to do it or it was only just an excuse in order to break time forever, or whether we really meant it? Why we can't break time forever, I don't want to go into this, it is a long story and I have to go to another meeting. I can only say this, good or bad, right or wrong let's not escape reality. In the territories where we live, there are five and a half million Palestinians, between the Jordan and the sea. The choice that we have to make for the long run, suppose there is no agreement, no intermittent measures, and we keep on going like this forever, at some point sooner or later the choice we will have to make is between living in a bi-national state with the evident reality of a majority of Palestinians, ultimately of a state which is dominated by non-Jews, where Jews will become a minority, without the right of return for Jews, with the right of return for Palestinians, and so on and so forth or we want to live in a Jewish State?

My parents came from China in 1933 to Palestine because they had a dream to live in a Jewish State, of living in a democratic Jewish State. To think that in the year 2008 or 2010 we will have to fight in order to have Minority Rights in our homeland is not what we are dreaming of. If that's what we don't want then we don't have a choice but to eventually pullout from areas which are densely populated by Palestinians in order to maintain the Jewish Majority in the State of Israel. And the question is - should we do it by an agreement and wait forever, and if not should we do it unilaterally and what is the manner of doing it so that it will best serve the interests of Israel. .We start with Gaza, move onto the West Bank, into those areas, not everywhere, I insist not everywhere, a main bulk of the Jewish townships in the West Bank will be left forever under Israeli sovereignty there is no question about it, and by the way I say to some American friends of mine, including the highest officials in the administration, you may not like it, if you can create a government that can do it come to me, but don't be so smart, there is no government in Israel and there will not be a government in Israel that will be able ever to dismantle all of the Israeli townships in every corner of the West Bank. Forget about it.

And some say to me, some Americans, "but it was a mistake to build Ariel and to build this and that," and I said, "OK, we are the only ones in the Middle East and in the world to make mistakes that we have to pay for, the rest never made any mistakes, Palestinians never made any mistakes, you guys never made any mistakes, only we did. Let's now control damages, let's now do what can be done, let's now do what is good to do in order to reduce the level of conflict to the inevitable minimum, to disengage Jews from the majority of Palestinians."

David Essing

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