Barak urges withdrawal from outlying settlements

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak proposed in an interview that Israel unilaterally withdraw from outlying West Bank settlements and outposts.

Under the plan that Barak outlined in a pre–Yom Kippur interview with Israel Hayom, any Jewish settlers who want to remain in their West Bank homes after the withdrawal could do so under Palestinian rule.

The interview was published in its entirety Sept. 25.

The day before, Israel Hayom reported that under Barak’s plan, the settlement blocs of Gush Etzion, Maaleh Adumim and Ariel, representing 90 percent of the Jews living in the West Bank, would remain under Israeli control and protected by the Israeli military.

Dozens of small Jewish communities would have to be evacuated under the plan, according to Israel Hayom.

The newspaper reported that Barak proposed several options in regards to evacuated Jewish settlers: to provide them with compensation; to move the entire community to another location in one of the settlement blocs or inside the 1967 borders; and to allow them to remain in their homes under Palestinian rule for a five-year trial period.

“It would be best to reach an agreement with the Palestinians but, barring that, practical steps must be taken to begin the separation,” Barak told Israel Hayom.

“It would help us not only with the Palestinians but with all the countries in the region, with the Europeans and with the American administration, and of course it would be beneficial to us.”

Barak said he has been proposing the same plan for the past 12 years. — jta