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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Convergence Consolidation Surrender and Expulsion plan shrinks - Part II

In a post I did on Friday, I noted that Ehud Olmert's convergence consolidation surrender and expulsion plan is shrinking. This morning comes an interview with the "Prime Minister's Advisor for 'Settlements,'" Uzi Keren, which indicates that only 20-30 'settlements' may be evacuated, and that many other Jewish towns will be left beyond the security fence's boundaries:

Speaking ahead of Olmert's meeting at the White House Tuesday with President George W. Bush, Keren, who stressed that he has been given "neither formal nor informal" specifics on the scope of the planned withdrawal, said that the aim was to create and bolster major settlement blocs "that we will defend with all our strength," while simultaneously ensuring contiguous territory for a viable Palestinian state. He added that he hoped that this could be achieved through dialogue with the Palestinians rather than unilaterally.

"I'm not sure that the line of the fence will be the line of the Palestinian state," said Keren in a lengthy interview at the Prime Minister's Office, adding that there were settlement blocs beyond the barrier route that would not be relinquished and for which other solutions would have to be found. The much-discussed figure of 70,000 settlers to be relocated was thus exaggerated, he said.

There is no definitive figure for the number of settlements that will be beyond the embrace of the security barrier when it is completed, but estimates are in the range of 55 or more. Olmert has indicated that his "convergence" or "realignment" vision would involve adjustments to the barrier route that would increase the proportion of West Bank territory retained by Israel, but Keren's comments suggest the retention of many more settlements than previously indicated.

For example, Keren said he did not envisage "the Beit El group" of settlements north of Jerusalem being relinquished. Asked whether this "Beit El group" included settlements further north such as Ofra and even Shilo, he said he did not see them being given up and that "there's room to maneuver."

The "Beit El group" hits home in this household. Aside from having several friends in Beit El, we also have relatives in both Ofra and Shilo.

Three points need to be made here. First, Keren's comments are being made as both Israelis and their foreign (particularly American) supporters wake up to the reality that the Gaza disengagement surrender has led to all of the worst scenarios predicted by its right-wing opponents and then some. Since the scenarios predicted by opponents of the Judea and Samaria convergence consolidation surrender and expulsion plan are far worse (including terrorists firing on civilian aircraft taking off from and landing at Ben Gurion Airport, strengthening the terrorists and damage to US allies such as Jordan and Egypt), Olmert is trying to at least create the impression that his plan is much less drastic than it really is.

Second, the cost to Israel of 'relocating' 70,000 people, and the time and resources that would have to be expended to do so, are enormous. They have been estimated at NIS 80 billion (close to $20 billion) and could conceivably go even higher. The fact that the government is talking about starting the new program this year, even while many of Gaza's Jewish refugees are not yet re-settled and have not yet received compensation, only makes it less likely that Israel will have the resources - financial and otherwise - to carry out the new program. So as a practical matter, it must be shrunk.

Third, as I noted in my post on Friday, it has been suggested that "Olmert's strategy is to force people out without compensation by making it as uncomfortable as possible to remain in Judea and Samaria." The new, shrunken plan fits right in with that scenario. How many Israeli Jews are going to want to live among the 'Palestinians' for any length of time, being constantly attacked and having to pass through limited security points every time they want to cross into 'Israel proper?' Will they be protected by the IDF and if so, to what extent? I cannot think of a 'better' way to dry out the remaining Jewish cities and towns and 'encourage' their residents to leave without compensation than to leave them on the wrong side of the 'security fence'.


At 12:09 PM, Blogger westbankmama said...

This is my husband's fear also. He thinks that they will leave us to the wolves, without giving us any compensation at all, and not sending in the army to patrol at all. I am not that cynical yet, but I am getting there.


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