Israel’s Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, said on Friday that as a result of the war on Lebanon and the significant damage caused to residents in northern Israel, the convergence plan is not longer a top priority on his government’s agenda, Israeli sources reported.
Israeli online daily Haaretz reported that Olmert told senior members and minister of his Kadima party this week, that it is “not appropriate to talk about convergence at this time”.
Haaretz added that Olmert said in closed session that he will not ignore the fact that “something fundamental had changed during the war” and that in light of this change he must make adjustments to the priorities of his government.
“It is not possible to ignore the Palestinian problem”, Olmert stated, “but at this point, the government is facing an enormous challenge to rebuild the north”.
Moreover, senior source at the Kadima party told Haaretz that Olmert said his plan for a broad and wide unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank would not be carried out in the foreseeable future.
It is worth mentioning that two days ago marked the first anniversary of the Israeli Disengagement Plan implemented by the then-Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon. Israel evacuated all settlements in the Gaza Strip and four settlements in the northern part of the West Bank.
In spite of the withdrawal, the Gaza Strip remained isolated and its borders remained under Israeli supervision. Currently Israel is imposing a strict closure over Gaza, barring even the entry of basic medical equipment and medications.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health warned of a humanitarian disaster after its hospitals began running out of medicine as a result of the siege and the increasing number of fatalities by the continuous Israeli attacks.
During a recent interview with the Associated Press while the war was ongoing, Olmert said that “the Israeli army’s gains in the war would contribute to the implementation of the convergence plan”, yet his recent statement contradict this statement.
Haaretz also said that several Kadima officials were not surprised by Olmert’s statements because senior party members expressed reservations on the convergence plan during the eve of the elections.
Sources at the Kadima party reported that the fact the Israel’s Justice Minister, Haim Ramon, who is considered the greatest advocate for the plan, will disappear from the political arena since he is facing criminal charges by an Israeli court for sexual harassment, would "nail shut the coffin of the convergence plan”, Haaretz reported.
During his meetings this week, Olmert also expressed strong opposition to the establishment of a public commission of inquiry into the war in Lebanon.
Sources close to Olmert, Haaretz added, questioned the need of inquiry, and what would it investigate.
The sources added that Israeli Defense Minister, Amir Pretz, should have waited a little longer until all soldiers are back from Lebanon before he appointed the committee which is headed by the former Israeli Army chief of Staff, Amnon Lipkin-Shahak.
Also, Haaretz said that a rumor began to circulate that Olmert may ask Amir Peretz to be the finance minister, and appoint Shaul Mofaz or Ehud Barak in his place, but sources close to Olmert said that they were not aware of such a notion.