Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak spoke out in favor of a unilateral withdrawal from portions of Judea and Samaria in an interview with Israel Hayom.
Under Barak’s plan, the communities of Gush Etzion, Maaleh Adumim and Ariel, which contain 90 percent of the region’s Jewish population, would remain intact. Jews living outside of those areas in secluded communities would be given the option of evacuating or live under Palestinian control. Israel would continue to maintain security control over the Jordan Valley and the hills overlooking Ben-Gurion International Airport.
Barak’s comments came under fire from the right. Likud MK Yuli Edelstein said, “This is not a disengagement plan we are talking about. This is our survival.”
But Barak insists that the time is now for Israel to be realistic, “This is not an easy decision, but Yom Kippur is a good time to take a long hard look at the facts and say ‘we are no longer a young country,’” he said. “We are 64 years old. We haven’t been in Judea and Samaria for a year or two. We’ve been there for 45 years. It is time to make decisions not just based on ideology and gut feelings, but on an accurate reading of reality.”
Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have been frozen for nearly three years. No new talks are scheduled.