Wednesday, December 10, 2003


As Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pressed his bid for a future unilateral Israeli withdrawal from parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, saying that the chances of reaching a signed peace agreement with the Palestinians were very small, there were new signs Wednesday of growing support within the ruling Likud for such a move.

Olmert met Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Tuesday for closed-door talks. Sharon has also hinted at a plan for unilateral withdrawal, but has revealed few details. Asked if Sharon had rebuked him or suggested that Olmert had gone too far in his public remarks, Olmert said the session had gone excellently. "Substantively, I certainly think that there is great closeness in our outlook over how to move forward."

Wow. I've been saying for awhile that unilateral withdrawal was the only good option left on the table, it appears the ruling party is now starting to agree with me.

I have to confess, however, that now that unilateral withdrawal is beginning to look like a real possibility, I'm starting to get cold feet. For one thing, the argument that all it does is bring the enemy to our doorstep is a good one, and certainly no withdrawal that I could support would satisfy Palestinian nationalist ambitions or their enabler in the international community. However, I do think unilateral withdrawal can guarantee better and more defensible borders then we would ever be likely to get in negotiations, particularly under the ridiculously biased Road Map. Plus, the retention of Jerusalem could allow us to use East Jerusalem as a bargaining chip in future negotiations, thus negating the argument that withdrawal leaves Israel with no cards left to play. Basically, if you believe the Palestinians under their current leadership will never make peace, and I certainly do believe that, then you are left with two options: unilateral withdrawal; and transfer. The latter, even divorced from moral considerations, isn't really a viable option, leaving us with only one possibility. It seems that people in high places are beginning to realize this.


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