In excerpts of an interview published by Yisrael HaYom newspaper, Defense Minister Ehud Barak proposed a unilateral withdrawal from most of Judea and Samaria, requiring tens of thousands of Jews to leave their homes or remain under the sovereignty of the Palestinian Authority.
Under Barak’s plan, major Jewish population centers – according to him, 90% of the Jews of Judea and Samaria – would remain under Israeli control. Israel would also maintain a military presence in the Jordan Valley and on hilltops of Samaria overlooking and in proximity to places of import such as Ben Gurion International Airport.
Barak’s full policy discussion will be published on Tuesday, before the Yom Kippur holiday.
Barak’s plan would be similar to the one carried out in 2005 in the Jewish communities of Gaza known as Gush Katif, and would include payments to families forcibly evicted from their homes. Barak likely did not envisage a similar outcome to that of the Gaza expulsion, which was the creation of a Hamas-run state frequently targeting Israeli civilian areas in rocket attacks.
According to the interview, in which Barak called PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas a “real partner” for negotiations, he is not sure “if this will succeed”. Yet he claimed this is the only way to legitimately lay sovereign claim to Jewish communities in the biblical heartland.
“ It would be a great achievement if we succeed to bring them into the permanent borders of Israel” after 45 years of Israeli settlement in Judea and Samaria, he said.