(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Former prime minister Ehud Barak said Thursday that Israel should consider unilateral moves to disengage from the Palestinians, in the event that efforts to relaunch negotiations with PA President Mahmoud Abbas should fail.
Speaking in an interview with Army Radio on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon, Barak said that such an effort to speak with Abbas must be made.
“I know Abu Mazen [Abbas] and his successors, and I say that we need to try to solve this with them, and if not – to seriously consider the unilateral steps required to create an irrevocable situation of disengagement from the Palestinians,” Barak said.
He said that such a plan would entail “marking a border inside of Israel that includes, of course, the settlement blocs and all of the neighborhoods in Jerusalem, as well as the military presence on the Jordan River in which we have had a Jewish majority for generations, which will answer our security concerns. And alongside this an independent Palestinian state will be established.”
When asked why the withdrawal from Lebanon, which he orchestrated, is seen in a more positive light than the 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip, Barak said that, in another 10 years, he believes the Gaza disengagement will also be seen in a more positive light.
The idea of the disengagement from Gaza was right, he maintained, but the execution was flawed. “The handling of the residents was not properly prepared. It was improvised and improper.
Israel could have built them respectable neighborhoods so that we would not have a situation 10 years later in which they are thrown in caravans in Nitzanim.”
Barak rejected claims by some that the withdrawal from Lebanon made Israel seem weak and sparked the second intifada.
“The intifada broke out because we, at the time, had ruled over the Palestinians against their will for 32 years.
Those who think we can continue to rule over them for 32 more years without facing further outbursts are living in an inner world of illusions.
They are disconnected from reality,” he said.
Barak issued veiled criticism of the Netanyahu government’s policies in regard to the Palestinians, saying that it was not enough to merely pay lip service to the peace process.
“There is a deep, common interest – to us and to the moderate Arab world – to reach an agreement. The crux of this common interest is the fight against radical Muslim terrorism and Iran’s nuclear hegemonic intentions.
“But there is no chance, and it is an absolute illusion to think, that this cooperation can be cultivated by telling [EU foreign policy chief Federica] Mogherini every once in a while that we are interested, without understanding that a necessary condition to enjoying this common interest is a willingness to seriously discuss the Palestinian issue.”