TEL AVIV, Israel — Defense Minister Ehud Barak says Israel should consider bypassing a stagnant peace process and set the borders of a future Palestinian state, becoming the most senior Israeli government official to offer the oft-discussed option, according to the New York Times.
Barak’s statement urging consideration of what he and many Israelis call “unilateral actions,” without offering any specifics, reiterates the thoughts of many political leaders, analysts, and intellectuals who have said that Israel needs to put in effect its own settlement to the Palestinian crisis, the Times said.
Though the Israeli government continues to call for two-state negotiations, the push for a one-sided approach also received credence Wednesday from the Institute for National Security Studies, a respected research center that is close to the military and security establishment.
Barak called for “an interim agreement, maybe even unilateral action,” during a conference sponsored by the institute near Tel Aviv. Referring to fears that Jews will become a minority in their own state, he added, “Inaction is not a possibility.”
“Israel cannot afford stagnation,” Barak said. “It will be a difficult decision to make, but the time is running out.”
The Palestinian Authority has opposed any effort by Israel to determine its borders and abandon a negotiated settlement on a wide variety of issues, including the future of Jerusalem.
The government entity did take its own unilateral steps last fall, when it pursued United Nations recognition, something it is considering doing again. Israel has criticized such efforts for stepping outside the bounds of negotiations.
The Obama administration has strongly opposed unilateral action by either side, and some senior Israeli officials have worried that such a move by Israel could provoke an uprising by Palestinians.
“The core issues of the conflict can only be resolved by direct negotiations,” Daniel B. Shapiro, the United States ambassador to Israel, said Wednesday.
Nabil Abu Rudaineh, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, also objected to the call for unilateralism, saying, “This policy won’t lead to a solution and would prolong the conflict. It will end the idea of the two-state solution.”
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