Olmert Campaigns on West Bank Pullout
Acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is planning a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank if he is elected to office on March 28; at least 17 Jewish communities—about 15,000 Jews—would be evicted from the area if his plan were implemented.
The idea behind Olmert’s plan is to leave areas that are already heavily populated by Arabs—therefore hard to defend—and to fortify the portions of Israel that remain.
The plan itself is an extension of the still-comatose Ariel Sharon’s shadow, who was planning to define Israeli borders with or without Palestinian cooperation—certainly the latter, if history is any judge. Olmert has finalized a date for completion of that plan: 2010.
Certainly, as Kadima struggles to assert itself as a party in Israel, Olmert needs an ally—and he may have found it: Hamas. That group will see the advantages of this withdrawal more clearly than anyone in Israel could. After all, Hamas’s main goal right now, like Olmert’s, is to get Israel out of the West Bank. The difference, however, as Stratfor put it, is that Olmert would view such a move as the end of Israel’s concessions, whereas Hamas would view it as the beginning—allowing it to “carry the battle to Israel proper” (March 10).
Hamas shows no signs of renouncing violence against Israel. A couple of recent illustrations of this reality: Hamas has launched a website for children “preaching the moral desirability of being a suicide terrorist via cartoons and children’s stories” (Arutz Sheva,March 9). Also, a children’s Internet magazine run by Hamas has demanded the return of the Spanish city of Seville to the “lost paradise” of al-Andalus, the Muslim-controlled Iberian Peninsula between the eighth and 15th centuries (Spain Herald,January 4).
Perhaps Ariel Sharon could have carried out the plan proposed by Olmert, despite the certainty that many Israeli politicians would have opposed it (although he may also have taken drastically different action after seeing Hamas’s success in elections). Olmert, though, is not Sharon, who is a general and hero of the Israeli people. Sharon’s ability to carry out his actions even though people might disagree with him was demonstrable. With Olmert, nowhere near the political heavyweight his predecessor was, this particular campaign strategy is more likely to shuffle him out of office in favor of stronger conservatives who are less willing to give up land. Even his own party—Kadima—is fractured over the idea: Former Prime Minister Shimon Peres and Education Minister Meir Sheetrit both opposed his withdrawal plan, calling for more negotiation with the Palestinians. According to Stratfor, “The party [Kadima] appears indecisive at best, factionalized and without a clear platform at worst” (March 8).
Olmert is campaigning on the idea that Hamas is not a strategic threat, with the promise that he will give Hamas what it wants: the West Bank. By contrast, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu is campaigning on the slogan “Strong against Hamas” and has warned that more withdrawals create a safe haven for terrorist activity and weaken Israeli national security. Hamas success in Palestinian politics—combined with the political ineptitude of Olmert’s campaign strategy—has greatly increased the conservative Likud party’s chances of winning the Israeli elections.
As Middle East politics become more volatile, Bible prophecy is in play. Zechariah 14:2 tells us that the Palestinians will take half of Jerusalem by force; Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has said that may happen this year. The political developments we are watching now are a major step in that direction. For more information, please read his article “Jerusalem Is About To Be Cut In Half.”