Israel weighs ´unilateral move´ (BBC) British Broadcasting Company) 30 May 2012 Last updated at 16:13 GMT)
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Israel´s Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, has said it might consider
a "unilateral move" if peace negotiations with the Palestinian
Mr Barak said that Israel´s newly expanded governing coalition had
to "lead a diplomatic process" in search of a permanent peace deal.
"We are on borrowed time", he warned.
Negotiations on a two-state solution stalled in late 2010 following a
dispute over Jewish settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.
Last month, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas demanded
that Israel freeze all settlement construction, and accept the
ceasefire lines which existed before the 1967 Middle East war as the
basis for the borders of a future Palestine, with mutually agreed
modifications, before he would return to direct peace talks.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has so far refused to
freeze settlement construction in East Jerusalem. Palestinians want
the area for their future capital, but Israel insists the city cannot
´Paying the price´
In a speech at Tel Aviv University´s Institute for National Security
Studies on Wednesday, Mr Barak said the new Israeli government should
consider all options if final-status negotiations with the
Palestinian Authority were to fail.
"We are a coalition of 94 [Members of the Knesset]; this is the time
to lead a diplomatic process," he said, referring to the number of
seats the coalition has had in Israel´s parliament since the
opposition Kadima party was persuaded to join on 8 May.
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This policy will lead to the conflict´s continuation and not to a
Nabil Abu Rudeina
Adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
"But if it isn´t possible to reach a permanent agreement with the
Palestinians, we must consider an interim arrangement or even a
"We are on borrowed time. We will reach a wall, and we´ll pay the
price. People who are now in a coma will then ask how we didn´t see
[this coming]," he added.
Correspondents say Mr Barak´s proposal came as a surprise, because Mr
Netanyahu resigned from a previous government in protest at the
unilateral withdrawal of Israeli troops and settlers from the Gaza
Strip in 2005.
The withdrawal is considered a failure by many Israelis because two
years later the Islamist militant group Hamas, whose founding
document commits it to the destruction of Israel, ousted the PA and
President Abbas´s Fatah movement.
Responding to Mr Barak´s comments, an adviser to Mr Abbas said any
Israeli unilateral moves in the West Bank and East Jerusalem
would "lead to the formation of a Palestinian state in temporary
borders, to which we object".
"This policy will lead to the conflict´s continuation and not to a
solution, burying the two-state solution," Nabil Abu Rudeina told the
Israeli newspaper Haaretz, adding that the PA was committed to "a
final agreement in which a Palestinian state will be formed with
Jerusalem as its capital".
"Without Jerusalem, we won´t agree to anything," he added. (© BBC
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