Leading article: The US must not bless Israel's border plans

Share
Related Topics

This week's visit to Washington by the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, will be scrutinised primarily for what he and George Bush have to say about Iran's nuclear enrichment programme.

But Mr Olmert will not want to limit the discussions to Iran. He will also seek demonstrative backing for his "convergence plan", which aims to unilaterally fix Israel's permanent borders with the Palestinians within the next few years.

Here is where an element of discomfort for the US may creep in. America may back Mr Olmert's ambitions in private, but is less keen to commit itself publicly to a plan that is sure to alienate Europeans, the Arab world, Muslims in general; in fact almost everybody except Israel, when their support or acquiescence is required in the conflict with Iran.

Mr Olmert has toned down his plan a little since he was elected in March, suggesting he may now consult some Palestinians - it is not clear who, exactly - before drawing lines in the sand. But the grace period will not extend for more than a few years, as the Prime Minister wants the borders fixed while Mr Bush is in the White House.

It is also unclear whether the offer to consult the Palestinians is sincere, or an alibi, designed to allow Israelis to declare they "tried" talks but now, sadly, have no alternative but to proceed in drawing borders on their own.

There may be no stopping Mr Olmert. After all, following Hamas's surprise victory in the Palestinian polls, he was effectively elected on a mandate to throw up a wall and push as many Palestinians as possible behind it.

But America would be making a strategic error if it blessed that strategy in public or private. It would be an oxymoron to describe unilaterally imposed borders as permanent. They will be no such thing. The Americans should remind their ally that without a real and sustained attempt to involve at least the Palestinians' moderate president, Mahmoud Abbas, in negotiations, any borders that Israel designs will be remain provisional. The Americans should also tell Israel it has got to start thinking more seriously about what will make a future West Bank state viable.

The European Union's representative to the Middle East peace process has described the Olmert plan as equivalent to locking a door and then throwing away the key. Dumping the Palestinians behind a wall of the kind that Mr Olmert seems bent on erecting, he says, is not the longed-for solution.

Obviously, Mr Olmert disagrees. But it would be unfortunate if he were able to boast that the US openly supported a plan which, as far as anyone can tell from its outlines, is unlikely to deliver peace or stability.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery Assistant/Nurse all cheshire areas

£7 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: We are a large and successful recrui...

Year 2 Teachers needed for day to day supply

£110 - £130 per day + Competitve rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Yea...

Digital Marketing Manager, Womens Fashion, London

£50-£60K Plus Benefits: Charter Selection: Highly successful leading women’s l...

Year 6 Teachers needed for day to day supply roles

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Ye...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A group of primary school children learn about where babies come from  

Of course seven-year-olds should be taught ‘age appropriate’ sex education

Chloe Hamilton
Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling taking part in a live television debate in Glasgow on Monday  

Scottish independence: Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?

Ian Hamilton
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis