Sharon Plans Massive Withdrawals
Reports are increasing that Prime Minister Sharon has drafted a plan for Israel's withdrawal from almost all of Judea and Samaria by 2008.
Middle East Newsline (MENL) reports in the name of "political sources" that Sharon has begun briefing senior U.S. officials of his intention to withdraw unilaterally from more than 95% of Judea and Samaria. Sharon is hoping to be elected Prime Minister for a third time - this time not in the Likud, however, but as head of his new Kadima Party.
One of the most valuable "acquisitions" of the Kadima Party, MK Chaim Ramon, formerly of Labor, said openly last week that Sharon will unilaterally withdraw to final borders in Judea and Samaria if Palestinian terror continues. IMRA reported that Ramon said this on a live interview on Channel 10's "London and Kirschenbaum" news program just hours after he announced his decision to join Sharon's Kadima.
Ramon explained that Sharon will keep his plans secret until the elections because he wants to give the Road Map a chance.
Many public figures said, both immediately before and after Sharon's decision to quit the Likud, that this decision stems from his desire to carry out dramatic diplomatic moves that he knows the Likud would not approve. Among those who have said this are Binyamin Netanyahu, former Ashkelon Mayor and long-time Sharon confidante Eli Landau, Likud ministers, and others.
The MENL report indicates that Sharon would seek a U.S. and international security presence in Judea and Samaria, as well as yet another commitment for the dismantling of Palestinian terrorist groups.
Sharon's reported plan is to order a unilateral withdrawal, at first, from more than 90% of Judea and Samaria, while retaining control over air space. The pullout would be accompanied by a pledge of an additional withdrawal, as well as full Palestinian independence, once the PA dismantles terrorist groups and maintains security cooperation with Israel. The MENL sources said a version of the plan has already been drafted by Israel's National Security Council.
Though Sharon has denied that he plans any further disengagements, he pledged last week to "lay the foundation for a peace in which we set the permanent borders of the state, while insisting on the dismantling of the terror organizations."