- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 21, 2003

No going back

Most Israeli settlers will remain in an expanded state of Israel, which will never retreat to its original indefensible borders, a top aide to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said yesterday.

Zalman Shoval, a foreign policy adviser, also told editors and reporters at The Washington Times that a new proposal by pacifist Israeli politicians and Palestinian officials is only a “warmed-over” version of the 1993 Oslo accords that degenerated into suicide bombings and renewed conflict.

“It is like a warmed-over meal,” Mr. Shoval said of the “Geneva Accord” promoted by a Palestinian delegation in Washington this week. “We all got stomach cramps the last time. The Israeli public is not going to want to eat it again.”

The accords call for millions of Palestinian refugees to relinquish, in effect, their claim of a right to return to Israel, which would accept a Palestinian state, withdraw from East Jerusalem and return to its original 1948 borders.

Mr. Shoval noted that those borders were insecure because Israel was only about eight miles wide at its narrowest point. Arab armies attacked Israel immediately upon its creation in 1948. Israel took the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the 1967 war, expanding its western borders to the Jordan River.

“We’re not going to go back to the original border. People should make no mistake about it,” he said.

Mr. Shoval predicted that about 75 percent of the Israeli settlers will be incorporated into the expanded borders of Israel, which will dismantle those unauthorized, scattered settlements populated by Israeli radicals still dreaming of a return to the biblical lands of Israel.

“Nobody, except for the extremist [Israeli] right, thinks in terms of a ‘Greater Israel,’” he said.

Mr. Shoval, who served two tours as Israel’s ambassador to the United States, expressed his disappointment over the condition of President Bush’s “road map” for Middle East peace, which called on the Palestinian Authority to crack down on terrorism.

“It isn’t dead, but it’s comatose,” he said.

Mr. Shoval placed the blame on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for the damage done to Mr. Bush’s peace plan.

“President Bush wants to break up the terrorist infrastructure. … Arafat won’t let that happen,” he said.

Forces cut in Kuwait

The United States yesterday withdrew it last Air Force unit from Kuwait, as the U.S. ambassador declared America’s mission to protect the emirate “accomplished.”

The departure of U.S. air power is part of a plan to withdraw American troops from Kuwait, where they have been stationed since a U.S.-led coalition liberated the oil-rich Gulf state from Saddam Hussein’s occupation forces in 1991. The United States used Kuwait as a staging ground for the invasion of Iraq.

“The departure of American forces from al-Jaber Air Base is a victory for Kuwait, for America and for the region,” Ambassador Richard Jones said in a ceremony at an airfield southwest of Kuwait City.

“Saddam Hussein, the greatest threat to Kuwait’s existence, has been driven from power never to return. Our joint mission of defending Kuwait against threats has been accomplished,” he said.

Mr. Jones also said U.S. forces have been cut in half in Kuwait but could not give an exact number of the remaining troops.

U.S. in Australia

With President Bush set to visit Australia tomorrow, the U.S. ambassador there is talking about the possibility of American and Australian troops sharing facilities there.

“What I do think we’re likely to do over the next few years is to try to create facilities in which we may exercise together, may have equipment together and may have ways of enhancing both our strategic security arrangements,” Ambassador Thomas Schieffer told the Australian Associated Press.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison @washingtontimes.com.

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