Senior Israel officials are scheduled to leave for the United States late Monday evening to notify the US government that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's realignment plan for unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank is off the table. For a Jerusalem Online video of events click here Olmert's chief of staff Yoram Turbovich and diplomatic advisor Shalom Turgeman expect to meet with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and national security advisor Steve Hadley, and intend to plan Olmert's next visit to the US.
Aug. 20 Analysis: Olmert realigns master plan
Olmert reportedly told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that the realignment plan agenda "is no longer relevant."
Speaking after the meeting, committee member Ran Cohen (Meretz) said that the word realignment was dead and that he understood from Olmert that the idea had been put to bed.
Realignment was the central platform of Olmert's policy regarding the Palestinians, but the idea of unilateral withdrawal from captured territory has been deeply undermined by the recent war with Hizbullah in southern Lebanon - a conflict that erupted six years after Israel withdrew unilaterally from the security zone it had maintained there.
Yesha spokesperson Emily Amrusi was not overly thrilled by Olmert's reported remarks. She said that the prime minister had made the statement out of political motives since what concerned him was keeping his coalition together and not aggravating the opposition.
"Olmert is still a shortsighted leader who is devoid of logic. He has not changed overnight, he is even talking of negotiating with Lebanon," exclaimed Amrusi.
Amrusi said that in her opinion, the realignment plan would only be postponed for a short time.
Olmert also told the committee he could not verify a report in the Qatar-based newspaper about an impending deal to swap Palestinian prisoners for Gilad Shalit.
"I read about it in the newspapers alone and know nothing of such a deal," Olmert told committee members.
The prime minister added that in a widespread conflict with Syria, Israel would use more force than it had done in the war with Hizbullah, saying that the IDF would not be as restrained as it had been in the conflict in Lebanon. He said that Syria was well aware that Israel had not used the full extent of its military might in the conflict.
While expressing his willingness to secure a peace agreement with Lebanon, Olmert reiterated his opposition to entering into negotiations with Syria. He said that it was not the right time for talks with either Syria or the Palestinian Authority.
Meanwhile, MKs slammed Olmert for rejecting a state commission of inquiry into the shortcomings of the war.
Likud MK Danny Neveh said that Olmert appeared defensive at the committee meeting and failed to give an adequate explanation of why he opposed such a commission.
Silvan Shalom (Likud) said Olmert had proven that he did not have the capability to regain the confidence of the people of Israel.