New York The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has supported the separate calls made by Israeli Opposition leader, Binyamin Netanyahu, and Israels Transportation Minister, former Defense Minister and former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief-of-Staff, Lt.-Gen. Shaul Mofaz, to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert not to make irreversible concessions by giving away most of Judea and Samaria in a new diplomatic initiative being negotiated with Fatah leader and Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. The two leaders will meet at an international conference to be held in November in Washington, D.C.
Addressing the Knesset yesterday, Netanyahu said We keep hearing about an international summit in November in which we will more or less promise to give away more land in another unilateral withdrawal. It wasnt enough that we retreated in Lebanon and Gaza, that now theyre planning another one?! … So [the Olmert government will] say that [withdrawals are] not unilateral, rather now we have a partner. And whos the partner? Abu Mazen. Hes a partner!? Reciprocity is when you get something back in exchange for what you give. But what will we receive? Will we receive the complete nullification of the right of return [to Israel]? We know that we will not. Will we receive sovereignty over Jerusalem? No, we know that [our government] has ceded this. And it keeps on going — with every Olmert-Abbas meeting, another 100 terrorists are freed, as we heard this morning — and thats when they meet here; when they meet in the US, its hundreds of terrorists who go free, and we hear that at the summit theyre going to be talking about thousands! Not to mention the guns that the PA keeps receiving … This government just gives and gives and receives nothing — and this will place us in dangers much greater than we have known before, as we see in Sderot; the risks in the Galilee continue as well. Our country will end up endangered by rockets from three directions … One diplomatic mistake made by government leaders, 1,000 generals cannot fix (Israel National News, September 5).
On Monday, Shaul Mofaz, a member of the ruling Kadima Party, also demanded a debate in Kadima to set red lines before the peace conference scheduled for Washington in November. Reports of progress in talks between Olmert and Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas over an agreement of principles to be presented at the Washington conference have raised tension and criticism in Kadima.
Kadima members are demanding that Olmert show them the agreement being drafted for the conference. Some said they were troubled by far-reaching, irreversible concessions. Kadima MKs Zeev Elkin, Shai Hermesh and Otniel Schneller told cabinet secretary Oved Yehezkel on Monday that they were concerned over developments. Yehezkel told them the talks were in the tete-a-tete stage and when the time is ripe, Olmert would fill them in and try to muster broad support for the move. Kadimas council is scheduled to discuss the agreement on September 20 and Mofaz has proposed setting up discussion groups to formulate a paper everyone could agree on. Additionally, the Public Security Minister and former Shin-Bet (General Security Service) head, Avi Dichter, also urged holding a debate in the party about the peace negotiations. Our duty is to make sure the PA passes several stages before we can conduct peace talks with it, Dichter said at the opening of Kadima House in Beit Shean ( Haaretz, September 4).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, The ZOA supports these calls from Opposition Leader Netanyahu and former senior security establishment figures like General Mofaz and Avi Dichter for caution and for avoiding Israeli concessions in the plans to be proposed at this upcoming conference. The PA, Fatah and Mahmoud Abbas have shown no commitment to fulfilling past Palestinian commitments to arrest terrorists and confiscate their weaponry and to end the incitement to hatred and murder that feeds terror. As such, they are not trustworthy peace partners and no rewards and concession are due to them. The Israeli public has also expressed its belief, shown in opinion polls, that such retreats will do nothing to bring peace and security. They understand that, on the contrary, such actions will do the opposite by encouraging and strengthening those attacking Israel and yielding them territory, resources and other advantages to make their attacks more effective. Further withdrawals would mean rewarding terror and thus creating further incentives for it, as well as endangering much of Israel by bringing Israels major population centers within the terrorists range. We renew our repeated urgings of the Olmert government to put an end to any further plans for any withdrawals while PA remains an unreformed, terror-supporting regime.
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