Defense Minister Ehud Barak suggested Wednesday in a speech to the annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies that Israel consider a unilateral disengagement from Judea and Samaria (Yehuda and Shomron, also called “Yesha“) — similar to that carried out by the Israeli government in the Gush Katif region of Gaza in August 2005.
Nearly 10,000 Jews were expelled from their homes, and deprived of their businesses and livelihoods in the process. Residents of some 23 settlements in Gush Katif and northern Samaria were later given compensation payments for their homes, but most were left jobless and with their things in storage for years at a time. Moreover, they were forced to continue paying mortgages on homes that were destroyed, as well as having to pay for typical day-to-day expenses such as food, school supplies and other necessities of life. “If it is impossible to reach an agreement with the Palestinian [Authority Arabs],” he said, “we should consider an interim arrangement, or even a unilateral disengagement, recommended Barak.” 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?’” Most of Barak’s attention, however, was directed to the Iranian issue. “The Iranians are a patient people,” he noted. “They say to themselves, ‘We waited 4,000 years for nuclear capability – we can wait a few weeks and not do anything that will spark action by Israel or the Americans,’” Barak said. What is the ultimate sword on one’s neck? Not waiting for them to have the ability, because that will be too late. There is no place for closing one’s eyes.”
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