Israeli Labor Party To Olmert: Hold Off Unilateral Withdrawals For One Year
May 19, 2006

New York – The Israeli Labor Party, the largest coalition partner of Ehud Olmert’s Kadima-led coalition government, is demanding that the government not move forward for twelve months on its ‘convergence plan,’ whereby Israel would unilaterally retreat from most of Judea and Samaria, with the Hamas/Palestinian Authority (PA) absorbing the territory evacuated by Israel. More than two-thirds of Labor Knesset members say they want the government to pursue bilateral talks instead for at least one year. During coalition negotiations leading to the formation of the government, members of Labor’s negotiation team often said that disagreements over the wording of the ‘convergence plan’ was a central roadblock to Labor joining the government. Ultimately, Labor officials said they had extracted a promise from Olmert that bilateral steps would be exhausted before any unilateral moves were made (Jerusalem Post, May 18).

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “It is significant that Kadima’s major coalition partner, Labor, is calling for the brakes to be put on this ‘convergence plan’ which is really just a euphemism to describe a policy of further Israeli unilateral withdrawals, giving more land to Hamas while forcibly removing at least 70,000 Jewish men, women and children from their homes, businesses and schools. Last year’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria has resulted only in uprooting thousands of Jews from their homes and communities, more terrorism, endangering of more Israeli cities, towns and vital national infrastructures, more Palestinian weapons smuggling into Gaza and the election triumph of Hamas. Just as the withdrawal from Gaza brought in Iranian troops and Al-Qaeda terrorists, the same will happen in Judea and Samaria with the added danger that Iranian troops and Al-Qaeda terrorists will then be next to Israel’s most heavily populated centers, endangering potentially millions of innocent Israelis.

“The ZOA has argued repeatedly against any negotiations and rewards for Hamas/PA until and unless it repudiates its Charter calling for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews, cease all terrorism and the incitement to hatred and murder that feeds it and publicly accepts Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. We strongly urge the Israeli government to desist from all unilateral concessions in any circumstances and all negotiations and rewards with Hamas/PA until and unless these fundamental changes occur.”

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