Mitchell: Israeli Plan to Partially 'Separate' from Occupied Territories Impractical
Former US senate majority leader George Mitchell has said that a plan by former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak to build a fence between Israelis and Palestinians "is not a practical solution."
In an interview on ABC television, cited by the Kuwaiti official news agency, KUNA, Mitchell said the idea "did not come up during our investigation and report."
Mitchell chaired the five-man international Sharm Al Sheikh fact-finding commission set up late last year to investigate the outbreak the latest Palestinian uprising against 34 years of Israeli military occupation, as well as Israeli reprisals and ways to end the bloodbath.
He was asked about Barak’s proposal, now adopted up by a group of Israeli MKs rallying for its support.
The plan is dubbed in Israel as "unilateral separation." It is supported by the Israeli President Moshe Katsav and reserve Israeli generals.
Mitchell noted that there were one million Palestinians living inside Israel and 200,000 living in occupied east Jerusalem. "They would be on the inside of the fence," he said.
There were also "insuperable questions of which (Jewish) settlements are in and which are out. It is not just the settlements themselves, it is the road network that supports them, the military installations that protect them.
"I think it is fraught with enormous practical difficulties,” Mitchell added.
Katsav was quoted by Haaretz as saying last month that Israel had "no choice" but to adopt the separation option, which “has won growing political and public support in recent months as Israelis have increasingly despaired at the possibility of reaching a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.”
He said Israel was essentially facing three options.
"The first is continuing the present situation which is unbearable, the continuation of terror, of bloodshed," he said.
"Another path is diplomatic negotiations, which seems impossible. Yasser Arafat is simply not interested in renewing diplomatic negotiations. He apparently is pinning everything on escalation. And the third possibility is to launch a military attack ... In any case the use of military force cannot (completely) solve the problem of terror."
Katsav said that the line of unilateral separation would be drawn in Area C - those areas in the Occupied Territories still under full Israeli control - and that the aim was to enhance security.
The move, he said, was a military one, and the unilateral "border" supposedly had no political significance – Albawaba.com