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Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Olmert good for Hamas
PM's failure to deal with tough questions gives Hamas time to boost its status

With Israel's justified refusal to talk with Hamas, and Olmert's destructive refusal to renew substantive talks with Mahmoud Abbas, a disastrous reality is emerging ahead of the day where pragmatists on both sides wish to advance towards a solution.

 

Sharon's and Mofaz's moves, undertaken "for the sake of security," would serve as an obstacle en route to achieving the required stability at the beginning of the process, and would even be used by the radicals to undermine it.

 

If Olmert still seeks to remove the diplomatic process from the formalin, where it was placed by his predecessor through the "Road Map" and "disengagement plan," here is a partial list of questions he will have to address:

 

Is there any chance that the last secular figures in the Palestinian Authority leadership would agree to the continued detachment of Arab east Jerusalem, including the holy sites, from the Palestinian living space?

 

Would anyone on the other side agree to the continuation of Jerusalem's economic and social collapse, as a result of cutting it off the natural, daily fabric of life it enjoyed with the Palestinian metropolitan area stretching from Nablus to Hebron?

 

Would any Palestinian leader agree to the disconnection of the West Bank's two parts through an enclave that includes Maaleh Adumim, which is larger than all of Tel Aviv? And what then – would Israel dismantle the wall, which cost hundreds of millions?

 

Would it dismantle the large terminals it built for the Palestinians in Kalandiya, Gilo, and al-Zaim? Would it build a new wall between Israeli and Palestinian neighborhoods, or would it allow free Palestinian entry into Jerusalem and from there on to Israel, in a manner that would turn the entire fence into a white elephant?

 

Is there any way that any Palestinian leader would agree to the continuation of the permit regime at border areas, which does not allow more than 95 percent of his people to be present in the area between the fence and the Green Line?

 

And what then – would the Israeli government annul it and allow any Palestinian to cross and continue uninterrupted into Israel, or would it attempt to move Palestinian lands and the thousands of Palestinians who are still in the area east of the fence, at the cost of additional billions?

 

Is there any chance that a Palestinian government, and even one that is only based on Fatah, would agree to the continued existence of the H2 area in Hebron as a ghost town, where tens of thousands of Palestinians are tip-toeing lest they be hurt by radical settlers?

 

How would State representatives be able to take back all the security considerations they presented before the High Court, arguing that there is no security without separation? And what then – does anyone think that the evacuation of 35,000 Palestinians would be more logical and possible than the evacuation of 500 Israelis?

 

Would we only then regret the fact that we entrusted in the hands of a handful of ministers lacking foresight the maintenance of a belligerent, robbing presence of those who were supposed to maintain the Jewish connection to the city of our forefathers even during times of peace?

 

Inspection points on every road?

Is there any way the Palestinians would agree to the road regime in place today that bans their movement on most main arteries in the West Bank built on their confiscated land?

 

How would Israel allow for Palestinian movement from the Green Line to major cities on main roads that were pushed without genuine security need into the border area, such as Highways 443, 60, 5, and 446,? And what would the architects of annexation propose then, in the name of security – inspection points on every road, at the cost of tens of millions?

 

Separated roads for Jews and Arabs with a wall at the center, using the same model being built today at a road east of Jerusalem? Or would they be forced to dismantle dozens of kilometers of fence that were built for no reason, similarly to the High Court ruling regarding the cement barrier in south Mount Hebron?

 

Is there any way that Saeb Erekat would agree to the continued detachment of the Jordan Rift Valley from the Palestinian living space through a system of checkpoints being operated through oral commands only, rather than written orders?

 

Would Israel be able to continue preventing Palestinian "absentee landlords" to return from Jordan to the lands they own in the Jordan Rift Valley?

 

Just like Sharon and Mofaz at the time, Olmert too believes that Palestinian rejectionism grants Israel the time required to create a reality where "new facts on the ground" entrench President Bush's position – namely, that it would be unrealistic to expect that the results of negotiations would be a complete return to the 1949 borders.

 

Yet if the moves described above continue for a long time, the prime minister would discover that while we're dealing with foolish matters, his maneuvers would only contribute to the perpetuation of a conflict the radicals are interested in, and grant Hamas the time it needs to establish itself without any other moderate alternative within Palestinian society.

 

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