Sunday, February 15, 2004
Arab Editorial: Backtracking on the Mideast
Editorial: Backtracking on the Mideast: "On the heels of SharonпїЅs announcement, the prime ministerпїЅs office revealed that the plan involved transferring Gaza evacuees to the West Bank to пїЅconsolidateпїЅ settlements such as Maale Adumim, east of Jerusalem, Ariel near Nablus, and Gush Etzion south of Bethlehem. The price, therefore, of evacuation would be the annexation of several large settlement blocs in the West Bank. This is a recipe for a takeover of most of the territories of the West Bank. The United States is not blind to this development. Powell has asked where the Gaza settlers will go and how settlement activity in the West Bank will be affected. But he has also told the lawmakers that the Middle East impasse may be broken by SharonпїЅs proposal to withdraw virtually all Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip and that the US team would follow up on some of the ideas put forward by Sharon. It can only mean that Washington is interested. Although the White House has publicly voiced opposition to transferring Gaza settlers to the West Bank, the language being used in private suggests that Washington is doing another about-face, one that is extremely troubling. "