Minister: Slim chance for realignment
Housing and Construction Minister Sheetrit says in an interview with Knesset channel 'current chances of implementing realignment plan very slim; I do not believe in another unilateral disengagement,' he says, adding that former PM Ariel Sharon was opposed to another Israeli withdrawal
While Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday that he would move forward with his realignment plan, ministers from within his own party, Kadima, are beginning to express doubts regarding the plan’s feasibility.
Housing and Construction Minister Meir Sheetrit said in an interview with the Knesset channel, “The current chances of implementing the realignment plan are very slim; there are many reservations, including my own; I do not believe in another unilateral disengagement.”
According to Sheetrit, the first Kadima minister to publicly voice his objection to Olmert’s plan, realignment is not a part of the party’s platform.
“Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was opposed to another Israeli withdrawal,” he said, adding that the plan has not been discussed by the government.
“The situation in Gaza further strengthens the opposition to the realignment. I am a proponent of peace, but of the kind that will come after negotiations,” Sheetrit added. “I believe we must be patient until there is someone to talk to. We should not carry out any unilateral steps.
Environment Minister Gideon Ezra, also of Kadima, said, "We are in a battle, the results of which may shape future relations with the Palestinians."
"At the moment, one cannot ask the prime minister to operate on two fronts; right now we are doing nothing to promote the realignment," said Ezra.
Ezra said it appears a fence will not be enough to protect Israeli communities from the rocket threat.
“We may be in need of more secure borders; we cannot live with a narrow corridor such as the ‘border corridor’ created near Ariel. I hope this war will make the Palestinian people understand that they must reach an agreement with us – for their own sake,” the minister said. “It is better to have political understandings, but when there are none – we need broad and defensible borders."
'Moderate Arab countries against these plans'
In a press conference of foreign journalists in Jerusalem Monday, Olmert said it was still his intention to promote the realignment plan, despite recent security tensions in Gaza. He emphasized his firm belief in the realignment plan as the strongest measure with which to advance processes in the Middle East.
"I have not changed my mind about the plan following the events in recent days and am still decisive about continuing towards an ultimate separation from the Palestinians and towards solid, secure borders recognized by the international community," he added.
Opposition Chairman MK Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday, "There is an understanding on the Right as well as on the Left that we can't continue giving up land unilaterally."
"Even moderate Arab countries like Jordan and Egypt are against these plans - and Iran supports it. Many in the public are now sobering up from the illusion of the realignment plan, except Mr. Olmert," said Netanyahu.
Ilan Marciano contributed to the report