Some 100,000 settlers would need to be evacuated for a two state solution to be
executed in the West Bank, according to Gilad Sher who was chief of staff to
Ehud Barak when he was prime minister from 1999-2001.
Sher made his
statement at a one-day conference to mark the 20th anniversary of the Oslo
Accords held Wednesday at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel
Although the topic was the famous agreement on a
negotiations process that was signed on the White House lawn on September 13th,
most of the speakers more broadly addressed the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict, including the newest negotiations that resumed in July.
outline of two states for two people will involve the evacuation of
settlements,” Sher said.
He estimated that this would involve the
uprooting of 100,000 people, slightly less than one third of the West Bank
It’s not possible at this time for Israelis and
Palestinians to reach a final status agreement, Sher said. The gaps between them
can be bridged, but not now, he said.
He was among a number of speakers
who believed that the best outcome of the negotiations underway would be an
interim agreement. Still, he said, Israel should begin preparation for a
two-state solution by halting building in isolated settlements and preparing a
master plan to evacuate them.
“We have to prepare ourselves in an
organized way, on a national level for the time when the settlers will come back
home to the borders of Israel,” he said.
It could take as long as three
or four years to draw up such a plan, Sher said.
Dov Weisglass, who
served as chief of staff to former prime minister Ariel Sharon, said he too
believed that some 100,000 settlers would have to be evacuated to pave the way
for a two-state solution.
But should Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
come to an agreement with the Palestinians, he lacks the necessary political
support to turn it into a reality, Weisglass said.
“Netanyahu has crossed
the Rubicon, but he is alone on the other side,” Weisglass said.
Weisglass and former justice minister Yossi Beilin who was among the architects
of the Oslo Accord, said in spite of Netanyahu’s support for a Palestinian
state, he would still not be able to offer the Palestinians terms they could
accept as a final status agreement.
The Palestinians won’t accept
anything less than what was offered to them by former prime minister Ehud
Olmert, Weisglass said, adding that anyone who thought otherwise was deluding
Beilin added that Netanyahu, for ideological reasons, would
not agree to divide Jerusalem.
In the 1990s, during the Oslo
negotiations, “we could have reached a permanent status agreement but we
During this round of talks, he said, the focus is on a permanent
agreement, “but unfortunately in the best of scenarios, we can only reach an