Olmert: Wide scale evacuation of WB settlements needed; Sharon trembled with rage; Right wing points finger at Sharon as standing behind Olmert’s comments.

A source in Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon office said Thursday that the premier ‘trembled with rage’ when he heard about the comments made by Industry and Trade Minister Ehud Olmert on the need to evacuate more West Bank settlements, adding that ‘Sharon’s position is laid out in the disengagement plan.’

On a Thursday visit to Nili and Na’aleh settlements in the northern West Bank, Olmert spoke about a wide scale evacuation of West Bank settlements.

‘We are heading into a disengagement plan that includes the evacuation of four Samaria settlements. This process is critical to reducing friction with the international community. We will have to evacuate more settlements in the future for this reason.” He said

‘This isn’t just, but it is necessary in order to remain a democratic Jewish state. The United States is virtually our only friend, but even the U.S. supports retreat to almost the 1967 borders.’ He added.

As Olmert talked about unilateral disengagement before Sharon adopted the idea, his comments are looked at with more seriousness.

Source in Sharon’s office moved immediately to deny that Olmert is once again presenting Sharon’s ideas, saying that ‘Nothing is being run up any flagpoles,’

Olmert’s hints are not new. In several interviews with media he called for a unilateral pullout from most of the Palestinian territories, concessions in Jerusalem, and a two state solution.

Yet, the timing of Olmert’s recent comments is seen as critical. His comments are expected to inflame the conflict with Likud hardliners as Sharon is campaigning for a Likud’s central committee decision over inviting labor to join the cabinet.

Olmert also told settlers on Thursday that he believes that Sharon will get the Likud convention’s approval for bringing the Labor party into the ruling coalition.

The right was outraged by Olmert’s comments.

The Yesha Council of Jewish settlements directed critisisims at the Prime Minister, saying that Olmert says out loud what Sharon says behind closed doors.

‘Olmert’s words prove that the disengagement plan will lead to a retreat to 1967 borders and the division of Jerusalem.’ The council said.

Likud rebels’ leader Minister without portfolio Uzi Landau called the Likud convention to block Sharon’s attempts to bring labor into the ruling coalition, saying that Olmert’s comments were a clear prove that Labor was needed in order to “force sweeping concessions” and pullback to 1967 borders.

National Union MK Arieh Eldad said ‘Olmert’s comments are only the first dose of the poison pill Sharon and Olmert plan to feed the people of Israel.’