Israel Beiteinu to set red lines next week for summit
PA would be taken over by international 'quintet' if it breaks deal.
By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
October 1, 2007 23:41
2 minute read.
Avigdor Lieberman 248.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert need not fear Israel Beiteinu leaving his coalition over territorial concessions made to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas at the November summit in Maryland if he does not cross the party's "red lines," Israel Beiteinu officials said Monday.
The red lines will be set next Wednesday at a meeting of the party's central committee in Jerusalem and then delivered to Olmert.
The conditions are expected to grant Olmert wide leeway to offer the Palestinians vast withdrawals in the West Bank and from the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem.
Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman appointed MK Israel Hason, a former deputy Shin Bet chief, to draft the red lines. He received Olmert's approval for Hason to meet with Palestinian Authority officials as part of the task.
Hason told The Jerusalem Post the plan he will present to the central committee would rule out compromises with the Palestinians about the return of so-called Palestinian refugees. The plan also will call for dividing the West Bank according to geographic and demographic realities with territorial exchanges on both sides of the Green Line.
Due to the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip, Hason rejected Vice Premier Haim Ramon's calls for connecting the West Bank and Gaza with a tunnel or sunken road.
He said Gaza would not be part of a potential agreement with the PA and that Israel would be free to continue treating the strip as a hostile entity.
"Gaza and Judea and Samaria were never one unit," Hason said. "If the authorities in Gaza don't recognize Israel's right to exist or the agreements Israel signed with the PA, then they are not part of the deal. They will be a terrorist authority and we will be free to deal with them accordingly."
Perhaps the most controversial element in Hason's plan is his call for an international takeover of the West Bank if the Palestinian Authority does not keep its commitments by a set deadline.
According to the plan, the West Bank would be run by a "quintet" of the United States, United Nations, European Union, Russia and the Arab League.
"The past 14 years have taught us that we have to be suspicious about the Palestinians' intentions in carrying out their commitments," Hason said. "They have yet to pay a diplomatic price for their lack of seriousness. If the PA doesn't honor its commitments, the international community would be given a mandate to run the Palestinians and Israel would deal with only with them from then on."
Hason said the advantage of such an arrangement would be that an international presence would prevent the Palestinians from firing upon Israel as they have in Lebanon since the end of the Second Lebanon War.
"International forces have their pluses and minuses but the main plus is that the Palestinians will never again be Israel's problem," Hason said.
Palestinian Authority officials are said to favor the involvement of an international body to oversee the implementation of its agreement with Israel, but it is doubtful that Abbas would agree to the punitive damages suggested by Hason.
Ramon and officials in the Prime Minister's Office have recently spoken to Israel Beiteinu and Shas officials to determine their leeway for remaining in the coalition ahead of the summit. Olmert's associates reportedly downplayed the summit in talks with Shas officials, calling it "not much more than a photo-op."
Cabinet Secretary Ovad Yehezkel visited Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef before Rosh Hashana but a Shas spokesman denied reports that the summit was mentioned at the meeting.