PA Rejects Barak's 'Unilateral Disengagement'
The Palestinian Authority rejected on Wednesday Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s suggestion that Israel consider a unilateral disengagement from Judea and Samaria (Yehuda and Shomron), similar to that carried out by the Israeli government in the Gush Katif region of Gaza in August of 2005.
According to a report in the PA-based WAFA news agency, a spokesman for PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, rejected Barak’s words, saying such a proposal would not lead to lasting peace agreement, but would only harm the two-state solution.
Abu Rudeineh reiterated that the PA is determined to reach a just and lasting agreement, based on establishing a Palestinian state along the indefensible pre-1967 borders with its capital in east Jerusalem.
Earlier on Wednesday, Barak suggested in his speech to the annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies that Israel consider such a unilateral move, saying, “If it is impossible to reach an agreement with the Palestinian [Authority Arabs, we should consider an interim arrangement, or even a unilateral disengagement.”
He added that he now sees an opportunity to explore such a move due to the fact that the current government coalition is very broad, comprising 94 seats. “It's time to lead the political process,” he said.
"We are on borrowed time,” Barak went on to say. “We are going to come up against the wall and pay a price for that. People who are now in a coma are later going to ask, 'how did we get to this point?'”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu later said he believes his 94-seat super-coalition is a historic opportunity – and mandate – for peace.
"On the peace process," Netanyahu told attendees at an Institute for National Security Studies conference in Tel Aviv. "We are 94 Members of Knesset. This is an opportunity to advance the peace process, an opportunity which may not repeat itself, in my opinion, in the next ten years."