In West Bank, Israel Sees Room to Grow

(Washington Post) Scott Wilson - Enjoying a moment of international sympathy, Sharon's government efforts are now focused largely in the West Bank, land of far more religious and strategic importance to Israel than Gaza. Sharon is acting on assurances he received last year from President Bush after presenting him with his plan to evacuate all 21 Jewish settlements in Gaza and four in the West Bank. The April 2004 letter from Bush has become a cornerstone of Israeli efforts to seek additional U.S. aid, propose borders beyond the demarcation between Israel and the territories, and build within West Bank settlement blocs such as Ma'ale Adumim. "In this case, the Palestinians are not giving the quid pro quo" for the Gaza pullout, said Dore Gold, an adviser to Sharon. "This time, the quid pro quo comes from the United States." Gold worries that the attention being paid to the evacuation of Jewish settlements is overshadowing Israel's security requirements. Bush's letter acknowledged Israel's right to "secure, defensible borders," and Gold's policy institute recently published a report suggesting such boundaries might reach as far east as the Jordan Valley given the uncertainty in Iraq, Iran and Jordan. "Israel withdrew lock, stock and barrel from Gaza, and that withdrawal cannot be replicated in the West Bank," Gold said. "I do not think the viability of a Palestinian state depends on its size. Just look at Bahrain and Singapore."

2005-08-29 00:00:00

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