Friday, August 18, 2006

Not Yet; Not Appropriate

Olmert hasn't given up - not yet, anyway.

Olmert: Lebanon, damage to north take precedence

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said this week that in view of the war in Lebanon and the significant damage caused to the residents of northern Israel, his convergence plan was no longer at the top of his government's agenda.

MK Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) said on Friday that Olmert's convergence plan would not be carried out in the "near future." Sheetrit added however that Olmert's Unilateral West Bank plan was not off his agenda altogether.

In conversations with ministers and senior members of his Kadima party this week, Olmert said that talk at this time about the convergence plan would not be "appropriate."

In closed sessions, Olmert said he was not ignoring the fact that something fundamental had changed in recent weeks, and that he recognized that he must make adjustments to the government's priorities in view of the changed circumstances.

Olmert said it was impossible to ignore the Palestinian problem, but added that at this point in time, Israel and its government were facing the enormous challenge of rebuilding the North.

This challenge, Olmert assessed, would consume most of the government's time and resources.

Sources in Kadima told Haaretz that the prime minister's statements indicated that his ambitious plans for a broad, unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank would not be carried out - at least not in the foreseeable future. The approach currently attributed to Olmert, however, contradicts statements made by the prime minister in an interview with the Associated Press during the course war. In that interview, Olmert said that the IDF's gains in the war would contribute to the implementation of the convergence plan.

Kadima officials have not been surprised by Olmert's current stance - and this, also because a number of senior party members had expressed reservations regarding the convergence plan on the eve of the elections.

Some party sources also said that the fact that the greatest proponent of the convergence plan, Justice Minister Haim Ramon, was soon expected to disappear from the political scene because of the criminal charges that have been brought against him would "nail shut the coffin of the convergence plan."

This guy's a tricky b*stard. We got to watch him and work at convincing the populace that the plan is dangerous to the extent of being an existential risk to the state.

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