Friday, January 30, 2009
Olmert Reveals Peace Plan to U.S. Envoy Mitchell
Israel News (IsraelNN.com) Prime Minister Ehud Olmert revealed his comprehensive peace plan to U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell on Wednesday. According to Olmert’s plan, Israel would retreat from most territory within Judea and Samaria and maintain large settlement blocks. Israel would evacuate 60,000 residents from their homes as part of the plan. In addition, Olmert agreed to transfer Arab neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority. Holy sites in Jerusalem would be placed under an international authority. In addition, a highway and a series of tunnels would connect Gaza to Judea and Samaria. As part of the plan, Olmert did refuse to allow the return to Israel of Arabs who left when the modern Jewish state was formed and their descendants.
MK Gidon Sa’ar: Plan will Bring Missiles to Tel-Aviv
In response to Olmert’s proposed peace plan, the Likud party called Thursday for an emergency session. Likud Knesset Member Gidon Sa’ar said, “This plan is dangerous and abandons the security of Israel. It will bring Hamas’ missiles to Tel-Aviv and the center of the country.” The Likud party stated that “this plan does not obligate Israel nor the Likud headed by Binyamin Netanyahu.”
In the statement, the Likud said that Kadima chairman Tzipi Livni, “who is a full participant in the negotiations with the Palestinians, already has announced immediately after her election in Kadima that she will continue in the way of Olmert regarding Palestinian and Syrian ties. Now the choice is clear to Israeli citizens – it’s either the continuation of Kadima’s way of concessions and withdrawals which endanger security, or the Likud’s way of advancing a responsible process in a position of strength and to safeguard Israel’s security interests.”
Livni Distances Herself from the Plan
Livni told students at the College of Tel Aviv-Yafo on Thursday that the plan "does not represent me or what I'm promoting." Livni said she would only promote an agreement that represents Israel's best interests, which she said included "Keeping the maximum number of settlers, keeping places that are important to us - at the head of the list, Jerusalem. No refugee would enter."
Netanyahu For a United Jerusalem
Former prime minister and Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu, who will likely return to his old leadership role after the February 10 Israel elections, repeatedly emphasized the Likud’s loyalty to the concept of a united Jerusalem.
Netanyahu stated at Wednesday’s Jerusalem Conference, “We have demonstrated in the past, and will continue to demonstrate our commitment to a complete, undivided Jerusalem.” Netanyahu continued, “What would have happened had we not built all those neighborhoods around the central part of the capital after the Six-Day War? Jerusalem would have been choked.” Moreover, he said, transferring sovereignty over those areas to the Palestinian Authority is not an option.
“Everyone knows what will happen if we were to leave those areas and divide Jerusalem. Someone will enter – and that someone will be Hamas,” Netanyahu stated, adding that dividing the capital, or resurrecting the specter of internationalizing the “Holy Basin”, this time at the recommendation of the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, would cause more problems, even for the international community, than it would solve.
Police Investigation in Sidelines
Olmert’s announcement puts the news on the backburner about an impending police interrogation of the prime minister. On Thursday, police announced that Olmert would be questioned at his Jerusalem residence on Friday. This will be the tenth time that the Prime Minister will be questioned over corruption allegations that forced him to resign. The investigation was delayed due to Operation ‘Cast Lead’.
Detectives are investigating allegations that Olmert accepted cash-stuffed envelopes from U.S. businessman Morris Talansky and falsely claimed travel expenses before becoming prime minister in 2006. Olmert denies the allegations.