Archive for Friday, March 10, 2006

Acting PM: Israel will build wall on new border if talks fail

March 10, 2006

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— Israel will determine its border with the West Bank in the absence of talks with the Palestinians, and then build a wall and move all settlers to the Israeli side, acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in an interview published today.

On Thursday, Olmert said Israel will draw its final borders by 2010, for the first time setting a deadline for what is expected to be a unilateral large-scale West Bank pullback.

Olmert, in comments carried by the Yediot Ahronot daily today, also threatened to assassinate incoming Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas if he is involved in terrorism - a threat made Tuesday by Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz.

He said that if there are no peace talks and the Palestinians resume major attacks against Israelis, then the Jewish state will change the path of its security fences that separate Israeli from Palestinian areas.

He said the new fence would become Israel's border with the West Bank.

Negotiations with the Palestinians have long been stalled. With Hamas about to present a new Palestinian government, resumption of stalled peace negotiations appears unlikely.

He told the paper that he would enter into dialogue with settler leaders to try to get them to agree to the new line, moving settlers from outlying areas into settlement blocs he plans to incorporate into Israel.

In the earlier interviews, Olmert said he would keep Gush Etzion and Maaleh Adumim, near Jerusalem, and Ariel, deep in the West Bank, as well as maintaining control over the Jordan River Valley, the line between Jordan and the West Bank.

Even with these areas under Israeli control, the plan would mean a pullout from most of the West Bank and removal of dozens of settlements.

Omert faces election March 28. Polls published Thursday showed Kadima with a wide lead over its two main rivals, the moderate Labor and hawkish Likud. But since the Kadima founder, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, was felled by a massive stroke Jan. 4, Kadima's numbers have been slowly dropping.

The latest polls showed Kadima with about 38 seats of the 120 in the parliament, while Labor was winning about 19 and Likud 17.

With Hamas about to present a new Palestinian government, resumption of stalled peace negotiations appears unlikely.

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