Shalom calls for unilateralism if Hamas wins

Israel should separate from the Palestinians without dismantling settlements in the West Bank if Hamas does well in the upcoming Palestinian Legislative Council elections, former foreign minister Silvan Shalom said Sunday. Shalom, No. 2 on the Likud list, said at the Herzliya Conference that if Hamas were to win Wednesday's elections, or if the results ensured Hamas a central role in the Palestinian Authority government, it would be a sign that no partner existed and there was no chance of implementing the road map. In this situation, Shalom said, a West Bank withdrawal - including dismantling settlements - would be "immoral and encourage more terrorism against us." Rather, he said, Israel should carry out "practical separation while preserving security in our hands." Under this plan, Shalom said Israel could provide "territorial and transportation contiguity between PA cities without destroying Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria." In this way, Shalom said, Israel could "separate from the Palestinians without forcing Jews to leave their homes - separation without dismantling Jewish settlements. The Jews would be connected to Israel, and the Palestinians to the Palestinian Authority." At the same time, Shalom said, Israel should speed up construction of the security fence. A bilateral agreement with the PA, he said, would only come when the PA decides it was part of the "new world, the moderate world." If, however, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah wins the elections, forms a government without Hamas and dismantles the terrorist organizations, then Israel would understand that the PA was interested in "coexistence and moderation." In that situation, he said, Israel should do what it could to strengthen Abbas, help the Palestinian economy and work toward implementing the road map. Shalom said that if the PA fulfills its obligations under the road map and dismantles the terrorist infrastructure, and after Israel removes the unauthorized settlement outposts as called for under the first stage of the plan, the two sides could then "return to direct negotiations and implement the other elements of the road map, until we reach a full final-status arrangement."