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Week in Review
Barak: Ofra and Beit El settlements would remain in Israel in final-status deal (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Barak Ravid and Chaim Levinson 05/15/12)
HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE
HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-Top
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said yesterday the West Bank settlements of Ofra and Beit El would be annexed to Israel under a final-status agreement, a remark that raised the ire of the Palestinians.
Barak told Army Radio that Beit El and Ofra would remain part of Israel "on any map anyone thinks will be part of a permanent arrangement."
According to Barak, "I think there are things that must be done to strengthen Beit El. It´s a very important community, Beit El. I have no doubt about the future of Beit El."
This marks a change in Barak´s position from the 2000 Camp David talks, when he was prime minister. Back then, he offered the Palestinians most of the West Bank and parts of East Jerusalem.
Barak, however, said he opposes a law that would expropriate private Palestinian land to retroactively legalize areas like the Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El.
According to chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, Barak´s remarks mean that only Israel is meant to exist between the Jordan River and the sea.
Erekat told Haaretz that the remarks expose Barak´s true intentions: to avoid negotiations with the Palestinians, dictate an arrangement and foil a two-state solution. (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 05/15/12)
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