Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak said on Wednesday that if final-status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians remain deadlocked, Israel should consider unilateral action — like its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip seven years ago — or an interim agreement.
Speaking at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies Barak said: “We are a coalition of 94 MKs, this is the time to lead a diplomatic process,” adding, however, that if such an attempt failed, “we must consider an interim arrangement or even a unilateral move.” Highlighting the urgency of the matter Barak added, “We are on borrowed time. We will reach a wall, and we’ll pay the price. People who are now in a coma will then ask how we didn’t see [this coming],” he added.
“Inaction is not a possibility,” Barak declared, “We should have marked borders between the states and we should have a majority Jewish population in Israel and we can have a Palestinian state besides us that is a realisation of their dreams,” he added. “It will be a difficult decision to make, but time is running out,” he concluded.
In response to Barak’s comments, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ chief aide Nabil Abu Rudineh said, “Israeli unilateral moves will lead to the formation of a Palestinian state in temporary borders, to which we object.”
“This policy will lead to the conflict’s continuation and not to a solution, burying the two-state solution,” Abu Rudineh said, adding that the Palestinian Authority was committed to “a final agreement in which a Palestinian state will be formed with Jerusalem as its capital.”
“Without Jerusalem, we won’t agree to anything,” he added.
In Barak’s address yesterday, the Defence Minister also spoke on Syria and Iran. With regards to Iran, he compared the current moment to the one Israel faced before the 1967 war, calling the Iranian nuclear threat “a sword on the neck” of the Jewish state.