PA officials ponder Barak 'unilateral action' remarks
Published Thursday 31/05/2012 (updated) 04/06/2012 17:02
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israel's defense minister said Wednesday that his government may consider "unilateral action" if peace talks remain at a standstill, in remarks that puzzled Palestinian leaders.
Ehud Barak's suggestion at a security conference that Israel should "consider a provisional arrangement or even unilateral action" if negotiations remain deadlocked, did not go unnoticed in Ramallah.
According to one official, speaking on condition of anonymity, the West Bank leadership is "studying the situation" to judge if the remarks reflected a real shift or only internal political rhetoric.
At first glance, the official said, the remarks seemed aimed at aligning with Shaul Mofaz, the leader of the Kadima party, who is an advocate of unilaterally withdrawing from parts of the West Bank. Unlike Barak's Labor faction, Kadima is influential in Israeli politics.
But the Palestinian official said the new proposal from Barak, who resigned in protest amid the 2005 Gaza withdrawal, likely said more about the growing influence of pro-settler sentiment on Israeli politics than any change of heart from the defense minister.
President Mahmoud Abbas' spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina, meanwhile, issued an official response: The PA's position is that a state with temporary borders is unacceptable, he said.
The spokesman told the Palestinian Authority's official news agency Wafa that Israel's policies were leading toward a continuation of the conflict rather than a solution.
The Palestinians are “committed to a just and comprehensive solution of a state within 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital and without Jerusalem nothing will be accepted,” he said.
Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti said the remarks should be taken seriously.
He condemned Barak's proposal but said it reflected "the truth about Israel's intention, which is to destroy the possibility of a Palestinian state and to divide it into small pieces and separate jails on less than 40 percent of the West Bank, without Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley."
Barghouti said the comments emphasized the need to restore Palestinian unity.