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Israel should evacuate isolated settlements: Ehud Barak

Amid rumours of early elections, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak says they might unilaterally evacuate isolated Jewish settlements yet annex larger ones into 'permanent borders'

AFP , Monday 24 Sep 2012
Barak
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak speaks during a press conference in Tokyo, Japan, Feb. 18, 2012. (Photo: AP)
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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 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 per cent 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 per cent 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 vis-a-vis 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."

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Marshall Holmes
24-09-2012 05:59pm
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Israel should make the first move
Israel should make the first move, they hold all the cards, they have the power, in every sense of the word. I want to see peace there in the middle east, I want to go to Israel and visit, it's important to me that I go to Israel, it's how I grewup in church. I don't want to see anymore Israelies die, or Palestinians, t's time to stop. Israel must stop living ou of fear, and start using the great wisdom that has allowed them to servive for thousands of years. I want my Israel and Palestine back, like it was when I went to church.
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Allan Philip
24-09-2012 03:49pm
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My 363 Degree Peace Plan
The Israeli Government should imagine Israel being ruled by the exact same detail rules they govern and enforce on the Palestinians today and over the last few decades. Then offer the Palestinians the opposite of those rules. Offer them exactly what you would want for yourself, the things you cherish, such as Democracy, Prosperity, Freedom. Help them (Palestinians) to develop their institutions, their economy, their agriculture, etc. Change the rules that create hostility to rules that bring about prosperity and cooperation. It's a sure fire way in gaining peaceful consideration from neighbours and completely dissipating the ignorance of Israel's right to exist. You may say, why pay for what's ours in the first place? There 's a price for every thing, even to live in peace.
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