Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's office denied on Friday a report in the Yisrael Hayom daily, which said that Lieberman has not ruled out the possibility of a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from much of Judea and Samaria.
Lieberman’s stance, as expressed in closed-door meetings, according to the report, was compared to that of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who laid out his plan in an interview before Yom Kippur.
Barak told Yisrael Hayom he would keep the “settlement blocs,” including Maaleh Adumim, Gush Etzion, and Ariel, allowing roughly 90% of Israelis living east of the 1948 armistice line to remain in their homes. The IDF would remain in strategically important areas, Barak said.
Barak’s plan would mean evicting tens of thousands of people from dozens of Israeli towns and villages.
However, a spokesperson with the Foreign Ministry told Arutz Sheva on Friday afternoon that Lieberman is not at all aware of Barak’s plan.
“Lieberman believes that in any agreement it is necessary to ensure the security of Israel and to demand international recognition,” the spokesperson said.
Barak’s proposal for another unilateral withdrawal of Jews from Judea and Samaria was slammed by nationalists, with Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein saying the proposal proves Barak has not learned from the “tragedy of Oslo.”
Responding to Barak’s proposal in a newspaper interview that Israel force all Jews outside of major population centers to leave their homes or accept Palestinian Authority rule, Edelstein stated, “This is not a program of Disengagement but rather a program for [political] survival.” He accused Barak of “making the mistakes of a rookie."
The Cabinet minister listed previous failures, noting that “Barak supported the Oslo tragedy,” referring to the Oslo Accords that exploded in 2000 with the Second Intifada, also known as the Oslo War.
Arab leaders have rejected Barak’s proposal as well. PLO executive committee member Wasel Abu Yousef told the Bethlehem-based Ma'an news agency, "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.”
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)