Convergence will not End Occupation

(Ha'aretz) The committee appointed to evaluate the feasibility of unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank determined that such measure will not amount to an official end of occupation. However, Israel may still take measures to diminish its responsibility over the Palestinians

The report of the "convergence committee" set to evaluate the feasibility of Olmert's Convergence Plan, i.e. unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank, raises legal, security and economic issues that may undermine the efficiency of the plan.

The report states, inter alia, that even if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, it is unlikely that it would gain official international recognition of ending its occupation of the West Bank. On the other hand, the committee maintained that "partial convergence" which will entail the evacuation of settlements, but will not substantially change the deployment of the IDF or the political status of the PA, will not bring much benefit to Israel.

In a Policy Product published by the Reut Institute on the issue of convergence (7/06) it also estimated that a unilateral Israeli withdrawal will not entail a de-jure end of occupation. However, the Reut Institute contends that the rationale behind the plan - i.e. ending Israel's control over the Palestinians – is still valid.

Israel can promote the goal of unilaterally ending its control over the Palestinian population if it reviews its political objectives.

Israel can gradually create a reality of implicit international recognition that the PA, and not Israel, is responsible for its territory and population. Such process leading to a de-facto end of occupation will not solve all the problems raised in the committee's report, but could substantially diminish Israel's responsibility and create a reality of two separate political entities, Israeli and Palestinian.

Relinquishing Israel's responsibility is dependant not only on its withdrawal from the West Bank, but also on measures that will increase the political independence of the PA and its effective control in the economic and civilian arenas.

Sources

Benn, Ha'aretz 8/15/06. Full text

Reut Institute policy product: The Political Objective of Convergence