Israeli defence chief proposes West Bank pullout
JERUSALEM (AP) - Israel's defence minister called for a unilateral pullout from much of the West Bank in published comments on Monday, saying Israel must take "practical steps" if peace efforts with the Palestinians remain stalled.
The comments by Defence Minister Ehud Barak appeared to put him at odds with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has resisted making any major concessions to the Palestinians in the absence of peace talks. Negotiations have been deadlocked for nearly four years. Mr Netanyahu's office declined comment.
Mr Barak's proposal is unlikely to be implemented, at least in the near term. Mr Netanyahu's coalition is dominated by hardliners who would be reluctant to embrace the plan. But Mr Netanyahu is widely expected to call early elections in the coming weeks, and Mr Barak may be trying to attract centrist voters to his party ahead of an upcoming campaign.
Speaking to the Israel Hayom newspaper, Mr Barak called for uprooting dozens of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, but said Israel would keep major settlement "blocs."