Labor MK surprised by Abbas’s ‘practical’ stance on security issues

After meeting PA president, Omer Barlev says he was pleasantly surprised to discover Abbas prepared to accept demilitarized Palestinian state.

December 3, 2013 03:44
1 minute read.
Labor MK Omer Bar-Lev

Labor MK Omer Bar-Lev 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)


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MK Omer Barlev (Labor) said that he was encouraged regarding the chances for a negotiated peace, on Monday.

This follows a discussion on security issues in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday.

Barlev said that during the meeting he presented his security concerns to the Palestinian president and was pleasantly surprised to discover that not only was Abbas prepared to accept that any future Palestinian state would be demilitarized, he also presented what Barlev described as a “moderate” position on key military issues.

Though Barlev declined to elaborate on the specifics, he said that Abbas told him, “I understand security is important to you; to me borders are important.”

Barlev said that “It was significant for me that Abu Mazen [Abbas] did not mention the holy places or the refugees as the issues he viewed as the most important. He sounded very practical.”

Barlev, who accompanied the new Labor leader Isaac Herzog to the meeting, said that Abbas showed a willingness to address Israelis’ concerns about incitement by creating a joint Israeli-Palestinian committee to deal with the issue.

Barlev, son of former IDF chief-of-staff Haim Barlev, served as commander of the Sayeret Matkal and commander of the IDF Jordan Valley Brigade. He then entered the Knesset as one of Labor’s few military experts.

He worked as a hi-tech executive and was active in “Aharai!” – a non-profit organization that encourages army service.

Though he is one of the founders of Peace Now, Barlev has expressed pessimism regarding the chances for reaching a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians and has begun calling for a unilateral pullout should the present Israeli-Palestinian talks fail.

Like Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Barlev insists that in any two-state solution Israel must retain military control over the Jordan Valley. This control is so that Israel can prevent arms smuggling into a future Palestinian state, though Barlev would be willing to see US troops take over after two to 10 years.

At the beginning of November, during a Fatah meeting, Abbas said that Israel was lying when it said that it wanted to retain control over the Jordan Valley for security reasons.

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