Israel’s Barak proposes pullout from West Bank

Israel’s Barak proposes pullout from West Bank

Israel’s Barak proposes pullout from West Bank

Palestinian women clash with Israeli soldiers at a protest against the Israeli settlement of Qadomem, near Nablus, West Bank. EPA Photo

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak believes Israel should evacuate dozens of isolated Israeli settlements in the West Bank while annexing larger blocs that are home to most of the settler population.

In excerpts from an interview published in Israeli daily Yisrael Hayom yesterday, Barak said he was mulling a plan which would see Israel relinquish dozens of settlements while allowing residents of big settlement blocs - Gush Etzion, Maale Adumim and Ariel, where up to 90 percent of the settlers live - to become part of Israel.

These blocs are mostly located near the frontiers with Israel proper, although one of them, Ariel, is located deep inside the West Bank. Barak also said Israel would need to maintain a military presence along the West Bank’s border with Jordan. The remaining settlers would be given financial incentives to leave, or be allowed to remain in their homes under Palestinian control for a five-year “trial period,” Barak said.

New report on violations

 “It’s better to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, but if that doesn’t happen, we must take practical steps to start a separation,” he said. “It is time to ... say: We managed to retain in Israel 80-90 percent of the settlers who arrived [in the West Bank] over the years at the government’s initiative and with its encouragement. It would be a big achievement.” Barak’s remarks came as a U.N. report said Israel must do more to halt a string of serious violations of Palestinian human rights documented by a 2009 fact-finding mission. There is a “need to more earnestly pursue accountability for the serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law,” Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang said.

“Not one person has been indicted for any of the incidents documented,” she said. Perpetrators of violations must be brought to justice, she said, adding that penalties must also correspond to the crimes.

Compiled from AFP and AP stories by the Daily News staff.