Accessibility links

Israel's Incoming PM Says Prepare for New Borders


Israel's incoming prime minister, Ehud Olmert, says his country's new borders will be significantly different from its current boundaries.

Presenting his new government to the Knesset, Israel's parliament, Ehud Olmert says Israel needs to get rid of numerous isolated settlements in the West Bank as part of his plan to redraw Israel's borders in the next four years.

Olmert says while Israel will pull back from numerous settlements in the West Bank he intends to hold onto several large settlement blocs that are currently home to tens of thousands of Israelis. He says he hopes to work with Palestinians through the road map peace plan to draw Israel's final borders with the Palestinians, but if that fails his government will act unilaterally.

Olmert says Israel will not wait forever and will not put off vital decisions about its future waitng for the Palestinians to act responsibly.

Mr. Olmert's Kadima Party won Israeli elections on March 28, but holds only 29 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. Israel's center-left Labor Party has joined Olmert's coalition, as have several smaller parties, including the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party, whose leaders have voiced doubts about whether they will support the West Bank pullout plan.

In his Knesset speech, Mr. Olmert also singled out Iran, saying it has targeted Israel for annihilation.

Mr. Olmert says, however, that Israel is not helpless and has the ability to defend itself against any threat.

Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged Israeli leaders to renew peace talks, saying he intends to ask Palestinians to vote in a referendum on any peace deal with Israel. The move is being seen as an effort to circumvent opposition to any peace deal with Israel by the Hamas-led Palestinian government.

Israeli officials say Mr. Olmert will likely meet with Mahmoud Abbas in the next few weeks, but that peace talks are not likely as long as Hamas refuses to recognize Israel, disarm or recognize pre-existing agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.

XS
SM
MD
LG