Israel To Set Final Borders By 2008

Israel has a bold new plan and I think it’s a great idea:

Israel will give the Palestinians until the end of the year to prove they are willing to negotiate a final peace deal, and will unilaterally set its final borders by 2008 if they don’t, Israel’s justice minister said Wednesday.

The statement by Justice Minister Haim Ramon, a close associate of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s, was the first by an Israeli official to set a deadline for the Hamas-led Palestinian government to disarm and recognize the Jewish state.

The Palestinians’ moderate president, Mahmoud Abbas, of the rival Fatah party, has tried to persuade Israel to bypass Hamas and resume peace talks with him, but Olmert has said he wouldn’t negotiate with Abbas if Hamas didn’t change its violent ways.

…Olmert originally had set a 2010 deadline for the pullback deadline, but a top aide said last month that Israel planned to conclude the process before the end of
President Bush’s term in 2008.

Ramon said it wouldn’t take more than 18 to 24 months.

“I would like to believe that by the end of 2008 we will be deployed on a line that will signify Israel’s final borders and guarantee our existence here as a Jewish democratic state,” he said.

The borders, he said, “will first and foremost include the settlement blocs and the regions that are necessary for our security.”

Things have really started to swing Israel’s way over the last few years.

First of all, the wall has greatly reduced the number of Palestinian suicide attacks.

Then, the Israelis willingness to give up some of the settlements proved to be a good PR move that greatly reduced the strain on their military and has the potential to help alleviate tensions over the long-term.

Furthermore, as predicted, the Hamas ascent to power has been “good news for Israel.” No reasonable and informed person can believe that the Israelis can actually negotiate peace with Hamas right now, so that has undercut sympathy for the Palestinians. Even though there wasn’t much of a practical change in their government (they just traded one terrorist group for another), political pressure on the Palestinians has increased greatly, they’re fighting each other, and their funds are drying up.

Next, in couple of years, the Israelis will set down a “final” border. That will help guarantee their security and it’ll take something that has been endlessly negotiated in these “peace talks” off the table, hopefully for good.

Does that mean a real “peace” between the Israelis and Palestinians could be right around the corner? That seems highly doubtful, but if the Israelis can at least significantly lessen the effectiveness of Palestinian terrorism while simultaneously making them pay a bigger price for their refusal to make peace, that would at least be a step forward.

Also see,

The Israeli Wall And The Settlers On The Other Side

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