Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israel should consider a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank if peace talks with the Palestinians fail.
Palestinian officials and Israeli government coalition leaders slammed Barak’s remarks, which were made Wednesday morning during a speech to the Tel Aviv University Institute for National Security Studies.
“We are a coalition of 94 MKs, this is the time to lead a diplomatic process,” Barak said, according to Haaretz. “But if it isn’t possible to reach a permanent agreement with the Palestinians, we must consider an interim arrangement or even a unilateral move. We are on borrowed time.”
Nabil Abu Rudineh, chief aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said the Palestinians “object” to unilateral actions that will lead to “the formation of a Palestinian state in temporary borders.”
“This policy will lead to the conflict’s continuation and not to a solution, burying the two-state solution,” he said, according to Haaretz. “Without Jerusalem, we won’t agree to anything.”
Meanwhile, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar of the ruling Likud Party said Barak’s “position did not represent the government’s position, one that is in a clear minority both in the government and in the coalition.”
“One wonders how there are people willing to toy with such a dangerous idea after the utter failure of the unilateral disengagement from Gaza,” Sa’ar said.