Is a West Bank Withdrawal Still Possible?

Time moves at a different pace in the Middle East. Believe it or not, it was only last March that Israeli voters elected Ehud Olmert and his new party, Kadima (Forward), to lead the country. During the campaign, Olmert, the heir apparent to the ailing former prime minister and army general Ariel Sharon, had spelled out his promise to pull most Israelis from the West Bank and draw the country's permanent borders, without waiting for Palestinians to decide if they were ready to accept Israel's right to exist.

Since then, thousands of rockets have smashed into Israel, and the country's armed forces find themselves fighting on two fronts, in the Gaza Strip in the south, and in the north against the Iran-backed Islamic militants of Hezbollah. Not coincidentally, both of these war zones stand in the two areas where Israel has already carried out precisely the kind of withdrawal Olmert advocated for the West Bank: Israelis moved out of Lebanon in 2000, and out of Gaza only last summer.

Is the West Bank withdrawal plan, what Olmert calls the "convergence" plan, now dead?

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