Israeli defense chief proposes West Bank pullout

FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012 file photo Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak attends a meeting with Greek Foreign Minister, Stavros Dimas in Athens. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis, File)

FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012 file photo Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak attends a meeting with Greek Foreign Minister, Stavros Dimas in Athens. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis, File)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's defense minister is calling for a unilateral pullout from most of the West Bank if peace efforts with the Palestinians remain stalled.

Ehud Barak calls for uprooting dozens of settlements but says Israel would keep major settlement blocs, mostly near the frontiers of Israel proper, and maintain a military presence in an area along the border with Jordan.

His remarks came in an interview published on Monday in the Israel Hayom newspaper.

He says it would be preferable to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians but after four years of deadlock, he says Israel must take "practical steps."

The Palestinians reject Israeli moves. They seek all of the West Bank under a negotiated agreement.

Barak's proposal is also likely to face heavy opposition from Israeli hardliners.

Associated Press
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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