Silvan Shalom tells ‘Post’: Jews on far side of West Bank barrier won’t necessarily be moved

By David Horovitz December 20, 2004

But `I can’t ensure what will happen in 40 or 50 years,’ FM adds

The security fence is not the country’s final border, and settlers on the ‘other side’ of the barrier should not fear they will necessarily be moved, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told The Jerusalem Post Sunday.

Asked if he would counsel parents seeking his advice that their children should move to a settlement like Beit El, which is beyond the route of the fence, Shalom replied: ‘I don’t see why not.’

But he was careful not to be more emphatic. Regarding whether Jews will live in a place like Beit El in another two generations, Shalom said, ‘I can’t ensure what will happen in 40 or 50 years. I would like to say that the answer is positive.’

Shalom said the government has made clear that ‘the fence is not a political route, not a route that will tell us or others where the border will run. If that were the case, many of us would not accept it, and much of the international community wouldn’t accept it either. We have said more than once this is only a temporary, preventive measure.’

Shalom’s remarks, part of an interview on the diplomatic process that will appear in Tuesday’s Jerusalem Post, came a week after Elliot Abrams, the White House’s chief Middle East specialist, was quoted as telling a group of Jewish organizational leaders in New York that eventually all the settlements beyond the fence will be dismantled.

Shalom, responding to a question about Abrams’s remarks, said the US has never accepted the idea of settlements in the territories, and that the settlers went to live in those areas ‘knowing that the Israeli government took the decision to settle them there, not because the Americans gave any approval.’

‘We never said that those who live on the other side of the fence will be evacuated in a final status agreement,’ Shalom said. ‘We need to discuss this with them [the Palestinians] and establish [the border].’

Regarding the formation of the new government, Shalom said he ‘absolutely’ has assurances from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that his role as foreign minister will not change when Labor head Shimon Peres takes a seat at the cabinet table.

Shalom was careful not to get pulled into a turf war with Peres. He said that while it is ‘nice and juicy’ to speculate about possible conflicts with Peres over realms of authority, ‘I don’t see it like that. There is a foreign minister and a Foreign Ministry. It is for the prime minister to decide what kind of forum to give to Shimon Peres.’

As to whether a mechanism has been developed to govern his relationship with Peres, Shalom replied: ‘I don’t think it [this mechanism] has to work between me and Shimon Peres, it has to work between the prime minister and Shimon Peres. I don’t see any connection it will have with me.’

(With Herb Keinon)

© The Jerusalem Post