Israel should evacuate West Bank - Barak

2012-09-24 20:33

Jerusalem - Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak believes Israel should evacuate dozens of isolated Jewish settlements in the West Bank while annexing larger blocs that are home to most of the settler population.

In excerpts of an interview in Yisrael Hayom published on Monday, Barak said he was mulling a plan which would see Israel relinquish dozens of settlements while allowing residents of big blocs - Gush Etzion, Maale Adumim and Ariel, where up to 90% of the settlers live - to become part of Israel.

"It would be better to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, but if that doesn't happen, we will need to act to start separating," he said.

"It is time to look Israeli society in the eye and say: We managed to retain in Israel 80% - 90% of the settlers who arrived [in the West Bank] over the years at the government's initiative and with its encouragement.

"It would be a big achievement if we manage to bring them into Israel's permanent borders," he said.


He said such a move would help Israel not only in relation to the Palestinians, but also in its relations with other Arab and Muslim countries in the region and with Washington.

It is not the first time that Barak has raised the idea of a unilateral withdrawal from parts of the West Bank, but it comes as rumours surface of a possible early election.

A general election is currently scheduled for October 2013 but could be pulled forward to the start of the year.

A member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing coalition, Barak could be seeking to distinguish himself from Netanyahu's Likud party by positioning himself as a more peace-seeking alternative.

Barak stressed that Israel should strengthen Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, who was a "partner" for peace, but also blamed the Palestinian leader for the stagnation in peace talks between the sides.

"I don't think that if we'd want it more, there would be peace," he said. "The bulk of the responsibility is on the Palestinian side."

  • zaatheist - 2012-09-24 20:47

    There will never be peace in the Middle East without fair honest negotiation. Barak realises this and he knows the current situation is unsustainable. The only fair basis which has any chance of success is a negotiated deal based upon the borders existent in May, 1997.

      Madhi - 2012-09-24 21:51

      1997 or 1967?

      zaatheist - 2012-09-25 04:12

      Thanks for pointing that out. !967 of course. Two finger typist fails again.

      jaba.kov - 2012-09-25 05:14

      Barak is wrong… When Israel left Gaza they did so in a ‘one sided’ move because they had no one to talk peace with – now all they get in return is daily rockets from Gaza. Islamic fundamentalists want Israel to come back to Gaza to fight so that they can “die for their religion” for Islam does not allow for peace through negotiation only peace through war, murder and death of the infidel. Barak is right… Maybe one sided decisions is the only way forward. In 2000 (and on many other occasions), Israel offered the Palestinians nearly everything they demanded... and the offer was met not with a counteroffer, but with Jihad. (at the time) Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and President Clinton offered: 97% of the West Bank (with the remaining 3% to be made up from Israeli territory) The entire Gaza Strip Military control over East Jerusalem Many Palestinian refugees to return to Israel proper, with the rest being settled in the new state of Palestine. There would be a $30 Billion fund to compensate refugees. According to chief US negotiator Dennis Ross, Yasser Arafat rejected it all, and did not offer new ideas of his own. Today Hamas reject the same offer as their objective is to kill all the Jews (at least they have the guts to tell the truth as written in their charter – if you don’t believe me just Google Hamas’s charter yourself… and read.)

  • Madhi - 2012-09-24 20:48

    Only God will bring peace, no one else and the date for that is obvious, the end of the world is d day for peace. Anyone else talking or promising peace before end of this world as we know it is on serious drugs, the type colombians, mexicans and nigerian dealers have not discovered yet.

      zaatheist - 2012-09-25 04:14

      Sorry but your god does not exist and the cause of all the problems in the Middle East is people fighting about who knows best how to flatter an imaginary invisible magic man in the sky. Take the gods out of the equation and they would have little left to fight about.

      theodor.herzl.3 - 2012-09-25 07:17

      The muslims believe their promised messiah called the madhi will only come when Israel is destroyed - I guess he'll never come.

      arthur.hugh - 2012-09-25 10:05

      "Only God will bring peace" - which "God" - the Muslim one or the Jewish one? ... idiot.

      Larry - 2012-09-25 13:01

      Is your allah so weak and ineffective that he allowed Israel to exist and grow stronger than all of Islam in the first place?

  • zaheer.vadia - 2012-09-24 21:29


  • hash.jadawat - 2012-09-24 22:17

    there was n never a israel it is known as PALESTINE..the zionists can try n do what they want..The time will come..the time is near for victory to the Palestinians..

      theodor.herzl.3 - 2012-09-25 07:13

      Wishful thinking - ignorance is your friend

      richard.bosmano - 2012-09-25 07:54

      The Romans renamed Judea - to palestine after the Philistine conection. The Philistines were not arab,probably Cretians in any case. The arabs only came squatting 600 years later,uninvited and unwanted. These so called palestinians were Jordaninans and Egyptians until 1967.

  • fort.horseman.7 - 2012-09-24 22:26

    Any initiative based on a mutual agreement to create peace is better then nothing.

  • theodor.herzl.3 - 2012-09-25 07:08

    It's called Judea and Samaria - not the West Bank. Israelis only stays in 1.7% of the so called West Bank. Arabs occupy approx 30% and a wapping 70% is not inhabited. What's the fuss really about??? This land is won in war environnment from the Jordanians and not the so called fake palestinians. Major on the majors - land for peace proved to bring only bloodshed...

  • zaks2217 - 2012-09-25 07:27

    This is very good news but I don't think it would materialize if the extremist likud party stays in power. And given the comments of Mr Barak now, I don't think people will vote for his party more so. Barak and Arafat would have made a good combination towards peace.

      theodor.herzl.3 - 2012-09-25 07:39

      Camp David 2000 - They did try but Arafat turned down the peace offer, just like any other opportunity they had.

  • Larry - 2012-09-25 13:06

    The Palestinians think they have successfully created a believable narrative that they are 'struggling' only against Israeli occupation of the West Bank. The truth is that this is just a propaganda smokescreen. Pre 1967 war, Israel was being attacked by Palestinians when there was no occupation, and the intention is to resume with their 'intifada' and hostility against Israel, the minute that Israel withdraws.

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