Palestinian leaders dismiss Barak's proposal for partial withdrawal
Published Monday 24/09/2012 (updated) 26/09/2012 02:50
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian leaders on Monday dismissed a proposal by Israel's defense minister suggesting a partial withdrawal from the occupied West Bank.
Ehud Barak told the newspaper Israel Hayom that in the absence of peace talks, smaller illegal settlements in the West Bank should be evacuated, with the major settlement blocs remaining under Israeli control.
Barak's proposal was swiftly shot down by Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, who said the army will remain in the West Bank until a peace agreement is reached.
PLO executive committee member Wasel Abu Yousef said Barak had regurgitated an old plan proposed by former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and that the proposal would be rejected by the Palestinian people and their leaders.
"It seems as if they're talking about a temporary state based on small separated areas whose valleys are controlled by Israel … they are avoiding talking about Jerusalem and the wall which is confiscating Palestinian lands and giving legitimacy to settlements," Abu Yousef told Ma'an.
The timing of the plan shows Israel is trying to avoid accountability for shutting off all other political horizons and to damage the PLO's efforts to upgrade Palestine's status at the UN, Abu Yousef said.
The Israeli government realizes that the Palestinian bid to be accepted as a non-member state by the UN General Assembly is serious, and that the PLO has the full support of the non-aligned movement and Arab, European and African states, he added.
Secretary-General of the Palestinian People's Party Bassam al-Salhi said Barak's proposal was a continuation of Israel's expansionist project, started in 1948, which aimed to destroy the possibility of a Palestinian state.
Palestinians insist on an end to Israel's withdrawal from all land occupied in 1967, al-Salhi told Ma'an.
"This plan doesn't change the reality of the Israeli occupation, which is trying to enhance its power and improve its image in the world and burden Palestinians with more issues," he added.