yossi beilin 298.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Meretz leader Yossi Beilin dropped a bombshell on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday when the ultra-dove told him in a closed-door meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Meretz MKs would oppose his West Bank realignment plan and work to prevent its passage.
Beilin's vow surprised Olmert, who had been counting on the support of the Meretz faction's five MKs to pass the legislation leading up to the plan's implementation. Beilin told the prime minister that the reason Meretz would oppose realignment after supporting the Gaza Strip disengagement was that while most Gaza evacuees moved to the Negev, realignment calls for West Bank settlers to be moved to the other side of the security fence, still inside the West Bank.
"If your plan involves unilaterally moving settlers from one side of the fence to the other, we won't vote for it and neither would the Arab parties," Beilin told the prime minister. "There will be at most 55 MKs (from Kadima, Labor and the Pensioners Party) in favor and at least 65 against, so it has no chance of passing."
Beilin said he believed Olmert would eventually realize that he would have an easier time in the Knesset passing an agreement negotiated with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas or a plan to withdraw West Bank settlers to the western side of the Green Line.
"There is no country in the world that would accept Olmert's borders and allow us to build homes in settlements," Beilin said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post that will be published Friday. "He won't get authorization from [US President George W.] Bush to build in the West Bank. The best he can get from the world is a blind eye. There is no chance our hands will rise in favor of building a single house for settlers in the West Bank."
Beilin noted that on Olmert's recent trips to Washington and London, US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair talked constantly about the road map, which prohibits even natural growth in settlement blocs. Beilin said he doubted that Olmert would negotiate with Abbas unless it was clear to him that realignment and disengagement were not possible.
Asked how Abbas could be a partner when he has been ineffective in stopping terror and bringing home Corporal Gilad Shalit, Beilin said that Israel should sign a deal with him regardless. He said such an agreement would be recognized by the world as the will of the Palestinian people and he believed it would guarantee international recognition of Israel's new borders and Jerusalem as its capital.
"I hope Abu Mazen will play an important role in bringing the soldier home, but even if he does not, he will still be chairman of the Palestinian Authority," Beilin said. "What he loses [by not succeeding] is respect as a world leader who can get things done, and it will strengthen the notion that he is weak. But my philosophy is that he may not be a partner for implementing an agreement but he is a partner for signing it, and the prime minister should realize the importance of a signed document with a Palestinian leader."