Vice Premier Shimon Peres said Sunday that the plan to pull out of parts of the West Bank has "disappeared" in light of fighting with the Palestinians and the Lebanese-based Hizbullah militia. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was elected in January on a so-called "realignment" plan to pull out of large areas of the West Bank and beef up others in drawing Israel's final borders.
Analysis: If not realignment, then what?
But the Israeli public no longer supports transferring land to the Palestinians after terrorists in the Gaza Strip tunneled into southern Israel and attacked an army post -killing two soldiers and kidnapping another - despite Israel's withdrawal from the coastal area, Peres said.
Israelis are also reluctant to agree to a West Bank withdrawal since Hizbullah killed three Israeli soldiers and captured two others in another cross-border raid that led Israel to wage a 34-day war against the militia, Peres said.
"I think a one-sided realignment plan has disappeared because of what happened in Gaza and what happened in Lebanon," Peres told Israel Radio. "We evacuated Gaza and Lebanon and they continued to fire from there like fools."
But Peres said Israel must consider other ways to proceed in talks with the Palestinians, which have not taken place for months. "We have to find a way to move forward," he said.
Olmert said on Saturday that he intended to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. While Abbas is willing to have such a meeting, the Palestinians have in the past conditioned such talks on Israeli agreement to make a goodwill gesture, like the release of Palestinian prisoners. Israel has said it would not consider releasing prisoners until the captured Israeli soldier is freed.