JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak proposed in a newspaper interview that Israel unilaterally withdraw from outlying West Bank settlements and outposts.
Under the plan that Barak outlined in a pre-Yom Kippur interview with Israel Hayom, any Jewish settlers who want to remain in their West Bank homes after the withdrawal could do so under Palestinian rule.
The interview will be published in its entirety on Tuesday, in the newspaper’s Yom Kippur eve issue.
Israel Hayom reported on the interview Monday, saying that under Barak’s plan, the settlement blocs of Gush Etzion, Maaleh Adumim and Ariel, representing 90 percent of the Jews living in the West Bank, would remain under Israeli control and protected by the Israeli military.
Dozens of small Jewish communities would have to be evacuated under the plan, according to Israel Hayom.
The newspaper reported that Barak proposes several options for the Jewish settlers that would be evacuated under the plan: to provide them with compensation; to move the entire community to another community in one of the settlement blocs or inside the 1967 borders; and to allow them to remain in their homes under Palestinian rule for a five-year trial period.
He said the government must maintain a dialogue with the settlers who are to be evicted.
"It would be best to reach an agreement with the Palestinians but, barring that, practical steps must be taken to begin the separation," Barak told Israel Hayom. "It is time to look Israeli society straight in the eye and say ‘we succeeded in keeping in Israel some 80 percent to 90 percent of the Jewish population that have come there over the years with the encouragement of the Israeli government.’ That is a huge accomplishment, if we manage to bring them inside Israel’s permanent borders.
"It would help us not only with the Palestinians but with all the countries in the region, with the Europeans and with the American administration, and of course it would be beneficial to us."
Barak said he has been proposing the same plan for the past 12 years.