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April 30, 2006
Kadima Gets A Majority, Announces Jerusalem Wall

The new Israeli political party founded by Ariel Sharon before his stroke cemented its parliamentary majority and announced its plans to erect a security barrier around Jerusalem. Ehud Olmert and his Cabinet agreed on the route for the wall, separating thousands of Palestinians from their jobs and paying Hamas back for their support of the terror attack in Tel Aviv:

Israel modified the route of its West Bank separation barrier on Sunday, moving forward with Interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's plan to quickly define the country's final borders as his Kadima Party secured a parliamentary majority.

The Israeli Cabinet voted to reroute an area near the major settlement of Ariel deep in the West Bank and approved putting temporary fencing around areas of Jerusalem abutting the West Bank. The moves will put thousands of Palestinians on the "Palestinian" side of the enclosure, officials said. ...

"We must make a supreme effort to complete the security barrier wherever possible," Olmert told the ministers. "The decisions we take today will allow us to complete the construction of the fence very quickly in critical areas, and therefore improve our ability to thwart attempted attacks."

Israel began construction of the barrier four years ago, saying it needed to keep suicide bombers out of the country. Olmert says the barrier will serve as the basis for Israel's final border with the West Bank, which Israel won from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war.

Olmert, whose Kadima Party won March 28 elections, says he hopes to reach an agreed settlement with the Palestinians but will move forward unilaterally if he concludes there is no negotiating partner on the other side.

Kadima reached an agreement with Shas to form a majority government, which will complicate this decision. Shas opposes any withdrawal from the West Bank, one of the predicates for establishing the final position of the wall. Shas apparently didn't have much to say about that issue today, but it will likely not remain silent if the Olmert government begins to pull settlers out of the West Bank.

Beyond that, Olmert will probably find his plan for Jerusalem very popular among the Israelis as a whole. The gap in their security barrier has been the focus of speculation on how the latest bomber made entry into Israel. With the success of the barrier in other areas, Israelis have to wonder why it took so long for their government to get it finished.

It also puts Hamas in a bind. When most Palestinian government employees have stopped receiving paychecks thanks to their diplomatic incompetence, their support for the terror attack will throw more of their people out of work. So far, Hamas has not given Palestinians any reason to believe that they can govern capably, and it doesn't appear that their track record has any chance of changing in the near future.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 30, 2006 6:21 PM

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