Sharon opposed more Israeli retreats
New York – A senior minister and leading figure in Ehud Olmerts Kadima party, Housing and Construction Minister, Meir Shitreet, has come out strongly against the Olmert policy of further unilateral withdrawals in Judea and Samaria, saying There is no point in giving West Bank land and receiving nothing in return. The Palestinians dont want peace. They will use the land to attack the Dan region. I suggest we be patient until we have someone on the other side who we can talk to, just as the Palestinians have waited two generations for Israel to be wiped off the map (Jerusalem Post, July 10). Yesterday, Shitreet also stated, Considering what is happening in Gaza, opposition to the [withdrawal plan] is growing. I believe in peace, but that it should be achieved by agreement, through negotiations. I believe we need patience, until there is someone to talk to. I dont believe unilateral steps should be made. Even [former] Prime Minister Ariel Sharon opposed more Israeli retreats (Yediot Ahronot, July 11).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, The ZOA applauds Meir Shitreet for forthrightly coming out against further unilateral withdrawals in Judea and Samaria. Shitreet is one of the most left-wing of the former Likud ministers who went across to Kadima and was one of the most fervent supporters of last years Gaza/northern Samaria withdrawal. As the ZOA has noted several times, further unilateral concessions by Israel in Judea and Samaria will endanger millions of Israelis by bringing the terrorists close to Israels major population centers and within mortar and rocket range of Ben-Gurion Airport. Such concessions would also endanger US interests and assets in the region, as a major study by the Washington-based Center for Security Policy has shown. Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told American Jewish leaders at Blair House in Washington, DC, on April 13, 2005 that Only after full compliance of the Road Map by the Palestinian Authority, will we discuss the final borders and any further compromise.
Meir Shitreets criticism of the plan for further unilateral withdrawals is not an isolated one within Ehud Olmerts governing coalition. Yesterday, two more Kadima ministers, Gideon Ezra and Zeev Boim, raised doubts about the plan. A number of Labor Members of Knesset (MKs), including Colette Avital, Ami Ayalon and Ephraim Sneh, are opposed to unilateral withdrawals. Meretzs Yossi Beilin has spoken against it. A senior Likud MK has said that most of the 14 Likud MKs who shifted to Kadima are also privately opposed to Olmerts plan. Additionally, Shas party Chairman Eli Yishai has said that he and the rest of his party, which has 12 seats in the Knesset, would oppose Olmerts plan if it was put to a vote. Clearly, large and important segments of the Olmert government do not agree with Olmerts policy and some, like Meir Shitreet, are coming out publicly against it. President Moshe Katsav has also expressed doubts about the wisdom of the plan. We strongly urge Prime Minister Olmert to review his policy and take account of the wide opposition this dangerous plan is producing within his own government.