Olmert: Greater Israel is finished, Jews must leave 'West Bank'

Sunday, September 14, 2008 |  Israel Today Staff

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday sounded a defeatist note as he declared before his gathered cabinet that the idea of "Greater Israel" is a thing of the past, and that Jews living in their biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria must make way for the emergence of a 23rd Arab state.

"Greater Israel is over. There is no such thing," insisted Olmert, as he belittled anyone who continues to cling to Israel's biblical rights to all the land west of the Jordan River as "delusional."

Olmert went on, however, to admit that just a few short years ago, he was one of those who believed in Israel's divine and historical rights to those lands.

"I thought that land from the Jordan River through to the sea was all ours, but ultimately, after a long and tortured process, I arrived at the conclusion that we must share with those we live with, if we don't want to be a bi-national state."

Olmert and his government continue to formulate diplomatic policy based on the belief that in the very near future Arabs will far outnumber Jews west of the Jordan River. That assumption has since been proved false, though Olmert has refused to alter his new position.

Olmert made his remarks regarding the failed vision of "Greater Israel" just moments after he presented a plan to essentially bribe Jews to leave Judea and Samaria. According to the proposal, any Jews who voluntarily leave the so-called "West Bank" prior to Israel officially surrendering the area will be paid one million shekels.

Olmert's deputy, Vice Prime Minister Haim Ramon said he believes about 11,000 Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria will take up the offer, making it easier to forcibly clear out the remaining Israelis when the government turns those areas over to the Palestinian Authority.

Other members of the cabinet harshly criticized the proposal, saying that it only made Israel look weak since the Palestinians are receiving nearly all of what they demand while continuing to fail to meet their own peace obligations.

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