The Israeli Defence Minister has called for unilateral disengagement from the West Bank excluding the major settlement blocs, which will be annexed to the Zionist state. Ehud Barak’s proposal also includes the evacuation of isolated settlement “outposts”; Jewish settlers would be given the choice of leaving the outposts (which are illegal even under Israeli law) or staying and living under Palestinian rule.
Speaking to the Israel Hayoum newspaper, the editorial line of which is supportive of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Barak said that under his proposal the major settlement blocs in Gush Etzion, Ariel and Ma’ale Adumim – home to 90 per cent of settlers – will remain under Israeli control. Israel will also continue to control “vital” military areas, such as the hills overlooking Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport; the remainder of the West Bank would constitute the Palestinian State.
Barak suggests that settlers who are evacuated from the isolated outposts should receive financial compensation and new homes, either in other settlements or within Israel itself, what Palestinians call the 1948-Occupied Territories. Settlers who prefer not to leave their homes will remain under the rule of the Palestinian Authority for a five-year trial period.
Barak told the newspaper, “It would be preferable to reach an agreement with the Palestinians but, if that doesn’t work, practical actions should be taken to begin disengagement.”
He believes that the time has come for the government to say that it will keep 80-90 per cent of the settlements in Israel, as they were established through government initiatives and support. “It is best to keep them within Israel’s final borders,” he said. “My proposal will help us not only in dealing with the Palestinians, but also with other countries in the region, with the Europeans, and with the American administration – and of course [it will help] us.” Some “cold reality” is needed, he added.