Withdraw From West Bank: Israeli Diplomat

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s nominee for ambassador to the US has called for unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and dismantle settlements to help establish peace with the Palestinians, Haaretz reported on Friday, April 24.

"The only alternative for Israel to save itself as a Jewish state is by unilaterally withdrawing from the West Bank and evacuating most of the settlements," Michael Oren told a lecture.

"I may be the last of the standing unilateralists," he added.

Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during the 1967 Middle East war.

But it unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in September 2005 under then prime minister Ariel Sharon’s disengagement plan.

Israel insists on annexing major settlement blocs in the West Bank under any peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Since 1967, Israel has built more than 164 Jewish-only settlements on the occupied West Bank, eating up more than 40 percent of the occupied territory and inhabited by as many as half a million settlers.

The international community considers all Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land illegal.

Generational

Oren said that achieving peace between the Palestinians and Israel is an issue of "generations’.

"Peace as a solution is not a question of next week but a generational issue," he said.

He said that any peace negotiations should tackle the root causes of the conflict.

"[To] better manage the conflict, to relieve tensions and ameliorate the conditions under which people live to ensure against future flare ups.

To achieve this, the diplomat said that Israelis must be convinced that they would be getting "absolute peace" and the "end of the conflict."

"One of the lessons that the failed Oslo process has taught us is that peace must be built from the bottom up.

"We cannot impose peace from the top down, it doesn’t percolate from the top down," he said.

Under the Oslo Accords, Israel is obliged not to take unilateral steps to alter the situation in the occupied Palestinian lands before a final peace settlement.

But Israel has never met these obligations.

Defying international laws, Israel is building a separation wall — a mix of electronic fences and concrete — which will eventually snake some 900 kilometers (540 miles) along the West Bank and leave even larger swathes of its territory on the Israeli side.

It has spurned a landmark ruling by the International Court of Justice and a demand by the UN General Assembly to tear down the wall and compensate the Palestinians affected. Tel Aviv argues that the wall is necessary for its protection.

But the Palestinians see the wall as a new land grab and an attempt to pre-empt the borders of their much-hoped future state.

(IslamOnline.net and Newspapers)

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