Ehud Olmert’s Four-Year Master Plan

The Bush administration is assuming that prime minister Ehud Olmert has a good chance of heading an Israeli government for the next four years, provided his Kadima party wins the March 28 general election.

On that assumption, the White House perceives future Israeli policy as being based on the principles outlined here for the first time by DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s Washington sources:

1. The West Bank defense barrier will be completed by December 2006 – or February 2007, at latest. Olmert informed the Americans that he had taken over the fence project from defense minister Shaul Mofaz and means to monitor the progress of work daily. As finance minister, he can waft away problems of budgeting.

2. The completed fence will enclose 76 percent of the quarter-of-a million Israelis living in the West Bank locations of Ariel, Maaleh Adummim, Efrat, Gush Etzion and the Jordan Valley. Left on the Israeli side of the barrier, will be 1.3 percent of the one and-a-half million West Bank Palestinians.

3. Some 65,000 Israelis resident on the West Bank will find themselves out in the cold to the east of the West Bank fence.

4. This group will not be forcibly evacuated, as were the Gush Katif Israelis from Gaza last September. Neither will the Olmert government initiate a unilateral withdrawal. They will be offered a compensation and re-housing program for voluntarily pulling up their stakes and relocating from the West Bank. The sum on offer will be much more modest than the compensation granted the Gaza evacuees. It will total $1 billion, equal to the allocation granted 10,000 evacuees from Gaza and the northern West Bank last summer. But it will have to be divided up among six times their number should they all opt to move away from the West Bank and resettle in pre-1967 Israel.

The Israeli prime minister is under no illusion that he can persuade all of them to make the move before 2010, when the next government ends its tenure – if it goes full term. But he hopes that up to half will agree to leave their West Bank homes.

5. On the strength of this limited withdrawal – and the likelihood of Mahmoud Abbas staying on as president of the Palestinian Authority – the Israeli prime minister believes final-status peace talks with the Palestinians will become feasible to determine the final borders between Israel and the future Palestinian state. For the process to go forward, the Palestinians will have to observe an extended ceasefire in their terror operations.

At this point, Jordan is demanding a role.


Olmert prepares aggressive action to eradicate terror


DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources report that King Abdullah is leaning hard on Olmert, as on Ariel Sharon before him, to permit the 3,000-strong Jordanian-Palestinian security contingent, known as the Bader Force, to take up position on the West Bank under the command of Jordanian officers.

The Jordanian government contends that, as the defense barrier’s construction progresses and a Hamas government assumes office, West Bank Palestinians will need to be subjected to the control of a professional military force with a finite command hierarchy, which is answerable to an Arab government boasting strong ties with the West.

This week, our sources reveal, King Abdullah sent the Bader Force commander, General Faisal Fahoum (scion of a Nazareth Arab family which fled to Jordan in the 1948 War), along with a group of senior officers, on a tour of European capitals.

Their task was to persuade defense ministry officials of those governments to press Israel to agree to the Bader Force’s deployment on the West Bank.

6. An Olmert government has charted a four-year military program for the West Bank, according to the impression gained in Washington.

It consists of the following steps:

Israeli forces will enter Palestinian-controlled areas to the east of the defense barrier for a radical campaign to eradicate terrorist strongholds and networks. The operation will be conducted more aggressively than has been normal IDF practice in recent years.

The campaign was launched this week.

Three Israeli battalions were deployed in Nablus against terrorist targets on Sunday, Feb. 19. They are still there five days later.

The Olmert government is planning several more large-scale operations of this type, some to be carried out simultaneously in several Palestinian centers.

According to this plan, offensives to wipe out terrorist bases will also be conducted in the Gaza Strip.

The Jordan Valley will remain in Israel’s hands as its eastern defense border. The defense frontier will consist of two lines: one will face the Jordan River and Syria to seal the border against the infiltration of terrorists to the West Bank. The second will run opposite the West Bank to secure the Jordan Valley and the eastern border against a Palestinian attack from the west.

The Olmert blueprint has been stuffed into a drawer meanwhile until March 28, depending on whether Ehud Olmert is able to win an election. He attained office – not through the ballot box but as caretaker, after Ariel Sharon suffered a stroke on January 4. He has a little over a month to prove his mettle to the Israeli voter.

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