Concept of ‘Greater Israel’ is dead: Olmert

September 14th, 2008 - 10:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Jerusalem, Sep 14 (DPA) The concept of an undivided, or greater, Israel is dead, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told his ministers Sunday, as the cabinet prepared to debate a plan to pay compensation to settlers willing to evacuate their West Bank homes.”Greater Israel is finished. There is no such thing as that any more. Whoever talks in those terms is only deluding himself,” media reports quoted Olmert as saying.

He said that while he did not always hold this opinion and that “dig anywhere (in historic Palestine) and you’ll find Jewish history,” he realized that “we have to share this land with the people who dwell here, that is if we don’t want to be a binational state”.

The evacuation-compensation plan, submitted by Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon, proposes to pay 1.1 million shekels (around $305,000) to settlers who leave their homes east of the security barrier Israel built on the West Bank.

Those who agreed to go to the Negev desert in southern Israel would receive a 25-percent more, while those who moved to Galilee would get an increase of 15 percent.

Ramon, an outspoken advocate of the peace process with the Palestinians, said the bill would help “curb the dangerous idea” of a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on one state for two peoples.

Ramon’s proposal met with a mixed reception in the cabinet, with one minister saying it should have been brought up much earlier, and others saying that to table it at the present time would tie Israel’s hands in the talks with the Palestinians.

At the cabinet meeting, Olmert also slammed the rampage Saturday by West Bank settlers, who were responding to the stabbing of a 9-year-old boy.

“This phenomenon of taking the law into one’s hands, of violent disturbances, of brutality by Jewish elements living in communities in (the West Bank), whether in recognized communities or in illegal outposts, is intolerable and will be dealt with sharply and harshly,” he said.

“There will be no pogroms against non-Jewish residents in the state of Israel,” he said.

Dozens of settlers rampaged Saturday through a Palestinian village in the northern West Bank, following the stabbing in the Yitzhar settlement near Nablus.

At least eight Palestinians were wounded as the settlers fired weapons in the streets, causing considerable damage to property, and stoned passers-by.

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