The plan unveiled by newly-elected Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, euphemized as the "Convergence", which will consolidate many of the 450,000 Israeli settlers living illegally in the Palestinian West Bank into major settlement blocs and surround the Palestinian areas with massive concrete walls, will be paid for by U.S. taxpayers, if Olmert succeeds in getting the backing from George Bush that he expects.
Olmert announced Thursday that he will seek broad international support for his plan to move 70,000 West Bank settlers from one settlement to another. Earlier this week, he had said that he planned to establish ‘final borders’ for the state of Israel (something that Israel has never done since its creation in 1948) by the end of George Bush’s term as the U.S. President in 2008. Israel has occupied the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip and kept those areas under martial law since 1967.
Israeli citizens have also been transferred onto occupied territory, in contravention of international law, and of the Fourth Geneva Convention (of which Israel is a signatory as of 1953), which states that transfer of civilian populations onto militarily occupied land is illegal.
450,000 Israelis have been transferred to the occupied Palestinian West Bank since 1967, displacing many of the nearly 3 million Palestinian inhabitants. Now, with Olmert’s plan, Palestinians will be left with less than 20% of their original legal land, and will be surrounded by 6-meter high concrete walls.
In a visit to the U.S. in May, Olmert will ask financial backing for his "convergence", which he claims will be completed within 18 months, and will cost up to $10 billion.
The newly appointed prime minister said he intends on withdrawing 70,000 Jewish settlers from the West Bank, less than a third of the 250,000 currently living beyond the Green Line (not including the 200,000 in East Jerusalem).
In return, Israel will keep hold of large West Bank settlement blocks, where most of the evacuees will be relocated. Olmert will ask for Washington to help him gather international support for plans to draw up final borders with the Palestinians to ensure a Jewish majority in Israel for decades to come.
"The State of Israel will change the face of the region," Olmert told the newspaper of his plan. "I will not miss this opportunity."
In the interview, Olmert ruled out the possibility of dividing Jerusalem, where 300,000 Palestinians currently live. "Dividing Jerusalem will not bring peace, only more fighting," he said.
Palestinians have maintained a claim on the city of Jerusalem, which has been a majority Palestinian city for centuries, but Olmert’s plan will take the city, including the eastern part of the city, and annex it as part of Israel.
Olmert estimated he will form a coalition within two weeks, after which he will appoint a team of Israeli businessmen and politicians to carry out his plan.