A U.S. security think-tank has urged President George Bush to reject an Israeli government plan for a unilateral withdrawal from 90 percent of the West Bank.
The report by the Washington-based Center for Security Policy, regarded as close to the Defense Department, warned that the plan prepared by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would destabilize the Middle East and threaten U.S. interests in Iraq and Jordan. The report said the West Bank would quickly come under the control of Iran and other U.S. adversaries.
“Although an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and the dismantlement of Israeli communities there seems consonant with traditional American policies in the Middle East, in light of the radicalization of Palestinian society, as evidenced by Hamas’ electoral victory in January 2006, it is unclear how an Israeli withdrawal today will align with U.S. national security interests and goals,” the report, entitled “Ehud Olmert’s “Convergence” Plan for the West Bank and U.S. Middle East Policy,” said.
“Unfortunately, it seems evident that an Israeli retreat from the West Bank will empower the terror supporting, anti-American de facto Palestinian state and will create a new base for global terrorism.”
The report’s author, Caroline Glick, an Israeli-based journalist, recommended that Bush reject Olmert’s plan during their meeting scheduled for May 23 in Washington. Ms. Glick, a research fellow at the Center for Security Policy, said Olmert’s plan was based on the unilateral pullout from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank in September 2005, which transformed the areas into Iranian-dominated launching pads for attacks against Israel and the United States.
“In light of all this,” the report said, “the Bush administration and the congressional leadership would be well-advised to refuse Olmert’s requests for U.S. support for his convergence plan while backing alternative policy options that will serve to strengthen U.S. allies in the Global War on Terror, while weakening those opposed to U.S. efforts.”
The report marked an effort by Republican Party conservatives, who include leading members of the House and Senate, to oppose Olmert’s plan. Conservative supporters of Israel, including the Christian Right, did not lobby against U.S. support for Israel’s decision to withdraw from the Gaza Strip in 2005.
The center said another Israeli unilateral withdrawal would destabilize Israel and Jordan as well as hamper U.S. efforts to maintain military equipment in those countries. Ms. Glick said U.S. forces and equipment would be prevented from traveling from Israel through the West Bank toward Jordan and Iraq.
“An Israeli retreat from the West Bank would enable the terror forces combating the U.S. in Iraq to establish training bases and political indoctrination centers in the West Bank,” the report said. “Such bases would operationally link the Palestinian campaign against Israel with the terror war against the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and their Iraqi allies.”