Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak suggested on Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government will initiate “unilateral action” should peace talks with the Palestinian Authority remain stalled.
Barak said Israel will withdraw unilaterally from some of Judea and Samaria, in a manner similar to the evacuation of Gush Katif and its military presence in the Gaza Strip.
Back in the summer of 2005, some 8,600 Jewish residents and the entire IDF presence were pulled beyond the “green line” and most of their homes and possessions were abandoned.
Barak warned the Palestinians that time was running out on their chances to reach an accord with Israel.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu urged the Palestinian Authority to “give peace a chance” and “not to miss this unique opportunity” for peace. Netanyahu spoke at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS).
In a speech before the INSS on Wednesday, Barak said that “Israel cannot afford to tread water.” He warned that if it turns out that a permanent peace agreement with the Palestinians “proves to be impossible, we have to consider a provisional arrangement or even unilateral action.”
In Wednesday’s NY Times, former Foreign Minister and Security Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami collaborated with Nobel Prize in Economics winner Thomas C. Schelling, Director of the Peace Consultancy Project at the University of Maryland Jerome M. Segal, and former European Union’s High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, on an op-ed piece titled “Going Directly to Israelis and Palestinians,” calling for the revival of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), which in 1947 submitted the Partition Resolution, later to become UN resolution 181.
But, despite the reasonable-sounding argument they make, that the new committee “First and foremost, it would listen to the Israelis and the Palestinians,” by calling for a UNSCOP-2 the authors of that article are placing Israel and the PA on an equal level, an approach which pre-determines the two-state solution.
Likewise, the “warnings” coming from Netanyahu and Barak do not threaten Israel’s Palestinian partners that—should they fail to negotiate in good faith—they would lose their chance for a state. Both leaders seem to have embraced the two-state option as the only possible course of action.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu told the INSS conference that “we and the Palestinians need to reach a peace agreement to prevent the creation of a binational state,” where Israel would lose its Jewish majority.
“We don’t want to rule the Palestinians and we don’t want the Palestinians as citizens of Israel,” he said.
Former Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat expressed doubts regarding Israel’s willingness to make sacrifices for peace. “If they want to reach an agreement, they know they can, based on a two-state solution,” he told the AP on Wednesday. “Unilateralism is the name of the game for this government, which is very unfortunate and complicates and undermines the prospect of peace.”