April 10th, 2012
08:51 AM ET

Israeli defense minister on settlements

On Sunday, I interviewed the former Prime Minister and current Defense Minister of Israel, Ehud Barak. We spoke about Israel's settlement activities in the West Bank and the degree to which they may jeopardize future discussions with the Palestinians about the creation of  a Palestinian state.

Here's a transcript of our discussion:

Fareed Zakaria: You ordered, this week, the removal of a settler family from Hebron over the prime minister's objections because you believed you had to uphold the law.

But yet, there is a similar situation going on with settlers in the Beit El community, where a court has ordered that the settlements be evacuated and yet the government, the prime minister has told the attorney general to find some other solution. Why would you not uphold the law and a court order in that case, as well?

Ehud Barak: In all cases, first of all, we strongly believe - it's both myself and also Prime Minister Netanyahu - in the rule of law and we clearly, finally follow the decisions of the Supreme Court. It doesn't mean that we cannot argue when the government thinks a different way and some private citizen or a group of citizens demand something. And we can always go, once again, to the Supreme Court and try to put our case and ask for certain changes and modifications. That's OK.

It's clear that when it's come to the end line and there is a decision, we'll basically follow it.

Fareed Zakaria: But if the Supreme Court rules that in the Beit El case, as the lower court has, that these settlements must be uprooted by May 1st, you will order the evacuation of those settlers, as well?

Ehud Barak: I do not tend to answer the speculations or hypothetic situations. Basically, I did it this week in Hebron. I did it several years ago under the previous government. And I did it all along my life. Basically, we expect our citizens to follow the law. And when something has to be done according to the idea that the state has an authority over its citizens, that should be clear.

And we are in a dialogue with our Supreme Court and our court system which is very effective - both kind of highly principled and they know to make decisions.

But it doesn't mean that the government cannot have a policy, cannot have a request, cannot ask the court to reconsider certain issues.

It happens in the United States. I've heard that some major issues in your country that have been decided by the administration are brought to the court to question whether it's constitutional or not. Something similar sort of speak happens from time to time here in Israel, as well.

Fareed Zakaria: The prime minister said, when describing the situation in Hebron, that "The principle that has guided me is to strengthen Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria," which are the biblical terms used for the West Bank, an area that, of course, under any conceivable two state solution will go to the Palestinians, or 95 percent of it.

Would you characterize your policy as the same, that the principle that guides you is to strengthen Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria?

Ehud Barak: You know, my feeling about this is slightly different, but it doesn't matter, because we have what we call the joint responsibility of the government. I'm not a majority party in the government, but a minority one. My positions are well known.

But part of the policy of this government, as well as other governments, that those - and I believe in it - that those people who are already living there - and there are some 350,000 people - we deserve, independent of what will happen to them in the final state of negotiations, they deserve getting services and the protection and the opportunity for a normal life and the development - the needs of normal life to be available to them, as well as to other citizens of Israel.

So basically, my position is that we have to reach a two-state solution, that we have to live side by side - Israel on one hand and a Palestinian state. That's basically what Netanyahu said in his Babylon speech. And I think that we should straighten what we call the settlement bloc, namely the highly kind of a densely populated areas of the Judea and Samaria or the West Bank, as you call it, and side by side by it a  viable, normally flourishing Palestinian state should be established.

I should tell you, to tell you the truth, that all these 350,000 Israelis are living on a very small part or fraction of the area of the West Bank. Altogether, these are probably 5 percent or 6 percent of the whole area.

So I think that if the whole settlement blocs together will not take more than 10 percent and certain swaps will take less. There is still a room for a solution, where we can live side by side. And I think that those settlements which are going to remain part of Israel, even in the final status agreement, namely the settlement blocs, should be built and developed as any other part of Israel.

Fareed Zakaria: The Palestinians are sending you a letter, though, arguing that if negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis must resume, Israel must stop building settlements, creating facts on the ground that will make it more and more difficult to create a two-state solution.

Is there any prospect of that happening?

Ehud Barak: Fareed, I hope that it will happen. I think that most of the burden for the inability to move in the last three years happens to be on the Palestinians' shoulders, not on ours.

But I can tell you honestly, I was the prime minister 12 years ago. I negotiated a very generous proposals with previous Chairman Arafat, together with President Clinton. It put a far reaching proposals on the table that was rejected by Arafat. And he turned deliberately to terror. And that during that time, we were building four times the pace of construction that Israel executed now. I was the defense minister in Ehud Olmert's government for five years ago when he proposed an extremely generous proposal to Abu Mazen. We were building about twice the pace that we are building now.

So this government of Netanyahu is not the most aggressive in building. We are listening very carefully to the needs of our citizens of, on the one hand, and to the needs of the Palestinian future state, as well as the demands from the world. And we are not going over any hill or valley and establishing new settlements. Not a single new settlement has been built in the last three years since this government is in power.


soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. S.V.P.YADAV

    Respected, Mr. Fared Zakaria Garu, Mr. Ehud Barak Garu what said that is true, But in this regard, result will come only 50% and again revolution will be expand. About Palestinians concerns, they dont know how to follow this issue, so seems comes may revolt.

    April 10, 2012 at 9:31 am | Reply
    • Jonathan Pollard zionist Spy and American Traitor

      We own America!

      No matter what . . . everyone will bow before israel.

      Today it is Iran, tomorrow it will be Georgia and Turkey.

      After that it will be Pakistan.

      We zionists are on the march.

      For all you zionist haters out there, we're watching you! For the rest of you stupid Americans . . . just do what you are told to do and believe everything you hear and read on CNN, NYTimes, NBC, Fox News, Time Magazine . . . and keep your children in front of the television at least 6 or 7 hours a day. For your children we want you to have them watching the Disney Channel and nothing else.

      We like our slaves to be stupid.

      For the rest of you . . . like I said we're watching you! And soon we'll be coming for you in the night.

      israel forever . . . .and keep that money coming to us!!

      April 11, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Reply
  2. alnovick

    The speech Netanyahu made was not in "Babylon" but "Bar Ilan", a prominent university in Israel.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      The Jewish settlers claim their biblical rights to the land on which they live, but heavenly peace doesn't seem to come their way.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Reply
      • Thinker23

        One side can start and maintain a war but BOTH sides are necessary to make peace. As long as the Palestinians are willing the war to continue it will continue and more Palestinians will be killed. When the number of dead Palestinians will satisfy those still alive they will ask for peace.

        April 10, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  3. patrick

    pinocchio..

    April 10, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Reply
    • Patrick

      stop using my name moron.
      There are billions of other names you can use.
      I have reported you.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Reply
    • Patrick

      I am not French, I will not go away.
      Your harassment technique will not work.
      The more you harass me, the more I will come back and post.
      If you had any cahones, you would talk to me-like a man.
      But, you do not know how to act like a man.
      You are a baffoon.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Reply
  4. Hal Watkins

    Regarding Mr. Barak's comments on the 'Rule of Law' and the Israeli-Palestinian conundrum: The way forward is through the rule of law, conscience, and non-violence. How about Israel helping to building homes for Palestinians on the West Bank as a first bold step toward peace and equally valuing/guarding Israeli and Palestinian lives?

    April 10, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Reply
    • Thinker23

      How about the Palestiians recognizing Israel and negotiating a peace agreement?

      April 10, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Reply
      • H Thoreau

        Sometimes the bigger or wiser man should take the first step.

        April 10, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
      • Thinker23

        The "bigger" (0.2% of the land in the Middle East) but certainly wiser Israel offered peace and a sovereign independent state to the Palestinian Arabs in 1948, 1967, 1978, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2009 and the Palestinians REJECTED it every single time declaring that nothing short of destruction of the Jewish state would satisfy them. So... how about the Palestiians recognizing Israel and negotiating a peace agreement?

        April 11, 2012 at 5:41 am |
    • miriam

      You'll obviously be surprised to know that Israel does allocate permits for building in Palestinian areas under its control. However, the majority of Palestinians are living under Palestinian control and it is therefore their own authorities who could be using the millions of dollars in global aid to build for their population.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:16 am | Reply
  5. samir

    The problem with Israil'is there intentions to do the right thing is not there,they just want to continue with this issue as long as they can without yielding anything and blaming the palestanians for non coaperation,and fooling the international community,with US support on its side which is so strong that politicians in US cannot survive politically if they disagree with israel on any issue concerning Palestine and the rest of the world see the hypocracy of US laws when it comes to Israel,peace with due consideration to its neighours is possible if Israel acts in good faith and let go of the land which does not belong to them instead of prolonging the problem and destroying future generations of both Israel and Palestine people.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Reply
    • Thinker23

      Can you NAME THE STATE the land you want Israel to "let go"? It would be even better if you could SHOW THE LEGAL DEEDS to support your claim.

      April 10, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Reply
    • Patrick

      Since 1948, Israel has been "fooling the international community".
      You are a comedian?

      April 10, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Reply
  6. Arthur Cohn

    PM. Netanyahu , the Israel government, and the majority of Israelis want a two state solution where the two states are at real peace, each state prohibits terrorists from using its state's area to attack the other state, and Arab refugees go to the Arab state, This solution is impossible because the Palestinians refuse to agree to it. They refuse to accept Israel as the Jewish State. They glorify terrorists, They want all Arab refugees to go to Israel , not the proposed Palestinian Arab State. Beside these massive roadblocks, the Israeli building in Judea, Samaria and eastern sections of Jerusalem are small pebbles. There will be no real peace agreements until the Palestinian Arabs rescind these roadblocks.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Reply
    • H Thoreau

      The logic in your argument falls apart when one looks at the history. The Palestinian exodus was triggered in much the same way the Jews were treated in the Pale of Settlement in Russia. A pogrom against the non-belligerent village of Deir Yassin in which atrocities were committed by the Irgun and Leti irregulars supported by the Haganah in 1948 convinced thousand of Palestinians to flee their homes. The Jewish village next door commendably came to Deir Yassins aid and demanded the killing finally stop, but it was too late. Those Jews were Righteous, but there is no plaque in Israel commending their actions. It is true that atrocities were similarly committed against the Jews by Arabs in Hebron circa 1920, and that millions of Jews were driven from their homes during the Holocaust and murdered. It is perverse and an insult to Holocaust survivors to use either of those tragedies to justify the massacre at Deir Yassin. The remaining buildings of Deir Yassin are now used ironically as a Psychiatric Hospital. One cannot just tell the victim of such a crime that 'you see you can just live in the Palestinian part now' and forget your village where your family may have lived for generations. Just as after WWII, when Konrad Adenauer offered to pay reparations to Israel which David Ben Gurion pragmatically accepted the Irgun was so strongly opposed they attempted to kill Adenauer, but failed. Sophie Scholl, of The White Rose, bravely told the Nazis that 'each life is precious' even as she faced certain death for speaking out and condemning the crimes against the Jews, but she did so because of her conscience. The way forward must encompass the rule of law, non-violence, and conscience.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Reply
      • Thinker23

        For starters, even the Palestinians admit that THERE WAS A FIGHT in Deir Yassin and this makes the legend about a "pogrom against the non-belligerent village" a lie. Further, if the fight in Feir Yassin "convinced thousands of Palestinians to flee their homes" then HOW COME no one was similarly "convinced" to leave their homes in Gaza and the West Bank 60 years later after way more substantial "pogroms"?

        April 11, 2012 at 5:47 am |
  7. 100% ETHIO

    The World that we are living, belongs to gangsters or according to Holly Bible, it has been given to Satan, until the resurrection(the end).

    Therefore, Human beings, since from exodus, we keep killing each other, either by being greedy, power thirsty, selfishness,.....and when our Mind and Concise are being taken by unknown forces, or our current created Mentality can not challenge the Devilish way. Which directing US into its own way.

    The war issue in this planet Earth, must not be blamed Palastine vs Jews. Planet Earth is always under fire and on going, endless Wars from its beginning. There wasn't anytime that weren't War in Planet Earth, and their will never any expectations to live in peace without wars, specially with modernization and advanced very fast Human killer Weapons and expansion of Nuclear Weapons.
    ****************************
    Planet Earth is controlled and outsmarted by Satanists. Never expect good from it.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:32 am | Reply
  8. miriam

    The Jewish community neighboring Deir Yassin did indeed have a good relationship with their Arab neighbours until the village became host to Arab Legion members who used the area to attack Jewish communities and the only access road to western Jerusalem.
    In the Pale of Settlement there were no attacks by Jews in their villages on neighboring communities and any attempt to compare the situations or the actions of Nazis with those of Israel is simply morally corrupt.
    It is interesting how the events of Deir Yassin are so frequently related, usually incorrectly, without any mention of the numerous other communities that were being attacked, destroyed and their populations massacred and displaced, the majority Jewish.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:38 am | Reply
  9. garcinia cambogia reviews

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