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Wednesday, February 8, 2006
Landau: Olmert holding onto Jordan border like held Philadelphi Corridor

Landau: Olmert holding onto Jordan border like held Philadelphi Corridor
Dr. Aaron Lerner 8 February 2006

Likud MK Uzi Landau pointed out in a live interview broadcast this morning
on Israel Radio that Acting PM Ehud Olmert chose his words carefully when
asked yesterday by Nissim Mishal of Channel 2 television about the Jordan
Valley.

Asked by interviewer Nissim Mishal what he intended to do with the Jordan
Valley, Olmert responded: "It is impossible to give up control over Israel's
eastern border."

"Olmert didn't say that Israel would hold the Jordan Valley", Landau noted,
"he only made the amorphous remark about "Israel's eastern border"".

Landau went on to suggest that one take into account that before the
withdrawal from Gaza, those planning the withdrawal claimed that Israel
would retain control of the international Gaza-Sinai border by holding onto
the narrow Philadelphi Corridor.

It should be noted that while this position was repeated by DM Mofaz in the
open Knesset hearings held regarding the withdrawal, that the Philadelphi
Corridor was abandoned by Israel immediately as Israel retreated from the
rest of the Gaza Strip.

===r

We must separate from Palestinians, draw final borders
By Aluf Benn and Mazal Mualem, Haaretz Correspondents - 8 February 2006
www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/680286.html

Israel "will separate from most of the Palestinian population that lives in
the West Bank, and that will obligate us to separate as well from
territories where the State of Israel currently is," Acting Prime Minister
Ehud Olmert said Tuesday in his first media interview since taking on the
job of acting premier.

"We will gather ourselves into the main settlement blocs and preserve united
Jerusalem... Ma'aleh Adumim, Gush Etzion and Ariel will be part of the state
of Israel," Olmert told Channel 2 television.

Asked by interviewer Nissim Mishal what he intended to do with the Jordan
Valley, Olmert responded: "It is impossible to give up control over Israel's
eastern border."

"The direction is clear," he continued. "We are moving toward separation
from the Palestinians, toward setting Israel's permanent border."

However, he declined to offer any further details, and in particular failed
to mention settlements such as Hebron, Beit El and Ofra, which Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon had viewed as part of the settlement blocs that Israel
would retain.

"The Olmert plan for further unreciprocated withdrawals was exposed last
night despite his efforts to camouflage it, fudge it and not say anything,"
said Likud MK Gilad Erdan in response to Olmert's interview.

"After the head of the Shin Bet [Yuval Diskin] warned against giving
additional territory to Palestinian terror without any quid pro quo, Olmert
continues to speak in a way that is detached from reality."

"The public certainly notices that in the same day in which Olmert approves
a negative, personal campaign against Netanyahu, he dares speak out against
'a culture of personal insult', by means of which he reached the pinnacle,"
Erdan said.

Olmert also reiterated that the road map peace plan would remain the basis
for any diplomatic negotiations with the Palestinians.

Regarding Iran, Olmert said: "The less we talk about Iran, and the more we
coordinate international action as we have done with the United States and
Europe, the better." He also thanked U.S. President George Bush for pledging
to defend Israel against any attack by Iran, terming this "the closest thing
to an announcement of a military alliance with Israel."

Earlier Tuesday, Olmert toured the separation fence around Jerusalem and
Gush Etzion, and pledged that "we will make an enormous effort this year to
finish the fence as quickly as possible."

One of the tour's main purposes was to enable Olmert to get a close-up view
of two high points near Gush Etzion, where a decision on the fence's route
has yet to be made. Following the tour, Olmert decided to move the fence
inside the Green Line at one of these points in order to avoid harming the
quality of life of Palestinian residents in the nearby village of Batir.

The Israel Defense Forces supported the decision, which will place the fence
along the route of a pre-1967 army patrol road.

The fence planners originally had wanted to include the archaeological site
of ancient Batir inside the fence, since it was the last stronghold of Simon
Bar Kochba, who led the second-century Jewish revolt against Rome. However,
doing so would mean building the fence at the top of the hill, which would
cut Batir residents off from their agricultural lands.

Olmert also rejected an alternative favored by the police - building the
fence in the middle of the hillside on the grounds that it would destroy the
view.

On the second issue - whether to include the Palestinian village of Jabeh on
the Israeli side of the fence - Olmert postponed a decision, saying he
needed to study the issue further. If Jabeh were left outside the fence,
Israel would have to move the Emek Ha'ela Road connecting Gush Etzion to the
center of the country, as the road abuts the village. However, because of
the difficult topography of the area, moving the road would be difficult.

Olmert also used the interview with Mishal to attack former finance minister
Benjamin Netanyahu's economic policies, accusing him of "failing to deal
courageously with the problem of poverty."

Nevertheless, he told Mishal that he did not rule out appointing the Likud
chairman to serve as finance minister once again should his Kadima party win
the elections and then form a coalition with Likud.

Olmert also accused Likud of being "an extreme right-wing party that offers
no horizon for a chance for change, but a forecast of endless war, of
endless diplomatic isolation."

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