JERUSALEM – Israel will determine its border with the West Bank in the absence of talks with the Palestinians and then build a wall and move all settlers to the Israeli side, acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in an interview published today.
Olmert said Thursday that Israel will draw its final borders by 2010, for the first time setting a deadline for what is expected to be a unilateral large-scale West Bank pullback.
Olmert, in comments carried by the Yediot Ahronot daily today, also threatened to assassinate incoming Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, of Hamas, if he is involved in terrorism – a threat made Tuesday by Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz.
The acting prime minister, whose Kadima Party is the front-runner in March 28 elections, has been increasingly forthcoming about his agenda in recent days to stop a gradual slide in the polls.
Olmert said that if there are no peace talks and the Palestinians resume major attacks against Israelis, then the Jewish state will change the path of its security fences that separates Israeli from Palestinian areas. He said that new fence would become Israel’s border with the West Bank.
Negotiations with the Palestinians have long been stalled. With Hamas about to present a new Palestinian government, resumption of stalled peace negotiations appears unlikely.
Olmert told the paper that he would enter into dialogue with settler leaders to try to get them to agree to the new line, moving settlers from outlying areas into settlement blocs he plans to incorporate into Israel.
Olmert told Yediot Ahronot he would consult world powers to get support for the new border, which would annex parts of the West Bank to Israel. “First of all I will talk to President Bush.” Up to now, the United States has opposed unilateral moves.