New York – Uri Dan, a veteran journalist and confidante of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for some fifty years, has written that Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmerts intention to carry out further unilateral withdrawals if the Kadima Party he heads wins the forthcoming Israeli elections contradicts Sharons policy. Olmert has repeatedly stated that he will simply implement Sharons policy and fulfill vision.
Olmert stated in a recent interview that he would act if elected to set Israels borders, whether the Palestinian acted to fulfill their commitment or not and that, in four years time Israel will be disengaged from the vast majority of the Palestinian population, within new borders, with the route of the fence – which until now has been a security fence — adjusted to the new line of the permanent borders (Haaretz, March 10).
Additionally, Avi Dichter, the former Shin Bet (Israel security service) chief has announced that, assuming that Kadima will form the next government, it will carry out an additional unilateral disengagement in Judea and Samaria and uproot additional settlements. According to Dan, Kadima purports to follow in the footsteps of Ariel Sharon and is telling voters that in pursuing unilateral withdrawals, it is following the course Sharon set, inspired by his vision. But the fact is that Sharon did not intend to make any further unilateral withdrawals following last years pull-out from Gaza.
Dan writes that Sharon was determined not to make further concessions to a Palestinian Authority that would not honor its obligations under the 2003 Roadmap peace plan. With the electoral triumph in January of Hamas, Dan argues that Sharon would make no further unilateral concessions (Jerusalem Post, March 7).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, The ZOA is very concerned at reports that Kadima, if it wins the elections, is intending to carry out further unilateral withdrawals. The ZOA opposed the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza as a move that would reward terrorism, erode Israels deterrence and boost the popularity of terrorists like Hamas, which it did. Now Hamas has been elected to govern the Palestinians.
In these circumstances, further unilateral withdrawals would damage the prospects of isolating Hamas and pressuring the Palestinians to end terrorism and the incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps which feeds it.
In a meeting with American Jewish leaders including myself on April 13 last year at Blair House (across the White House) in Washington, D.C., Prime Minister Sharon made it very clear that he intended no further unilateral withdrawals after Gaza. Sharon told us that, after the Gaza/northern Samaria withdrawal, there would be no further concessions whatsoever until and unless the Palestinian Authority met all its obligations under the Oslo signed agreements and the 2003 Roadmap peace plan.
It is very troubling that despite Sharons clearly stated policy on this subject, Kadima is falsely claiming that its proposal for further unilateral withdrawals simply reflects Sharons own policy when this is not the case. Any unilateral withdrawal in which Israel hands over territory to the Palestinian Authority controlled by Hamas can only empower Hamas further, weaken the international campaign to isolate it and endanger Israel.
We strongly urge Acting Prime Minister Olmert to reconsider his policy of further unilateral withdrawals which is supported by only a minority of Israelis and in no way conforms to Sharons stated policy.