ISL – Jerusalem
The recent takeover of the Gaza Strip by the Hamas movement and the consequent downfall of the Fatah are changing the political landscape in the area.
Today, the Israeli PM began making overtures to one of the most embattled groups in the West Bank – the Jewish settlers.
Olmert said that in view of the fact that Hamas is unwilling to make peace with Israel and insists on trying to destroy it, while Fatah, the Oslo stalwart, has lost all credibility as well as any real power: "We are left with no choice but to face the facts: we have no Arab peace partner," said Olmert, who based his election campaign on striving for peace at all costs. Today, Olmert says that he will continue to try to make peace with Israel's enemies, "even if they happen to be Jews."
Olmert singled out Jewish settlers in the West Bank as the most likely target for the next peace initiative:
"They live in the West Bank, and have a decades-long dispute as well as a lot of bad blood between us, just like with the Palestinians," said Olmert who is reportedly willing to offer the settlers their own state in the West Bank as well as hundreds of millions of dollars worth of weapons in return for starting to speak Arabic and killing Israelis, in the name of "Peace".
U.S. President Bush pledged his support for the peace initiative, saying that the U.S. government will support the settlers- as soon as they start killing Jews- with full battle armament for two divisions as well as a squadron of fighter jets "in order to get the new country off on the right foot."
Meanwhile, Jewish settlers were bewildered by the offers: " We don't want to kill Jews, on the contrary – we want to stop the killing of Jews," said Benzi Lieberman, head of the Yesha Council. Lieberman admitted however that there have been many disagreements between the two sides and that both could benefit from some form of honest mediation. Lieberman, though, was unsure that the time was right: "The Israeli government is not preparing it's citizens for peace with the settlers and until it does so the chances for success are bleak."
Lieberman pointed out that incitement against settlers continues in the education system and especially in the Israeli press. He also pointed out the Anti-settler legal campaigns conducted by the Attorney-General and the Israeli Police: "until these actions stop and we witness a true change of heart it will be difficult for us to believe that Olmert is sincere in his wish for peace."
Lieberman said that for the time being the settlers will continue the irritating Zionist activities which have been the basis for the dispute, such as serving in the army and protecting strategically vital areas by living there. Lieberman did say that the settlers will always be willing to talk with the Israeli government in order to realize the age old Jewish ideal: "Peace for (settlement of) Land."
Political analysts say that Olmert is expected to encounter much resistance to his radical peace plan. Senior Foreign Office officials who wished to remain anonymous already said that peace with the settlers is impossible: "How can we make peace with people who do not want to destroy Israel, who do not murder us daily, who do not educate their children to hate us? These are people who want a strong vibrant Israel, who are willing to serve in the army and sacrifice themselves for their country, people with a mentality so alien to ours that the gap between us and them is simply unbridgeable."
Olmert dismissed these remarks saying that he is a visionary: "In time, the people in the foreign office and the Israeli media will come to realize that we must make peace with our enemies, and we don't choose our enemies, they choose us.
"Mark my words," said Olmert, " in five years we will be sitting in Kiryat Arba, wiping real, authentic settler Kugel off our plates and behaving as if all those years of desperate fighting were just a bad dream!"
Inspired by a post on Freedom's Cost