Ehud Barak: Hold elections by June to adopt two-state solution

Israel has a small window to oust Netanyahu and accept the US proposal for Gaza, the former PM said


Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak speaks during a rally to protest the Israeli government's judicial overhaul plan (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP) (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

(JNS) Israel must hold elections by June if Israel is to have a chance to accept the Biden administration's plan for a post-war Gaza Strip, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak has argued

Netanyahu has repeatedly rejected the U.S. proposal that the Palestinian Authority take over the Gaza Strip, saying he will not “replace Hamastan with Fatahstan"—an interim step leading to a Palestinian state.

Barak, however, views the U.S. proposal favorably, where Gaza would come under the rule of a "revitalized" PA with reconstruction efforts aided by moderate Arab states such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, along with NATO countries, all with America's blessing.

"Israel is urgently required to be prepared at a later stage in this process of bringing the revitalized [Palestinian] Authority to Gaza and entering into a political process, whose goal is ultimately two states," Barak said in a live conversation on X/Twitter.

There's only a small window of opportunity for Israel to accept the U.S. plan because the American proposal will require the approval of a majority of Congress, meaning some 15 Republican senators would need to support it, Barak said.

"There is no chance that after April or May such a thing could be passed during the American election [campaign], when [Donald] Trump or whoever will run for president. The Republicans will probably say, 'We are not handing Biden any achievements,'" Barak argued.

Israel must go to elections soon, he argued, working under the assumption that elections would mean Netanyahu's ouster. (Barak over the years has made no secret of his distaste for the current prime minister and has long sought his removal.)

He noted it takes about 100 days for Israel to hold elections and said therefore the decision needs to be made by the start of Passover (April 22) at the latest.

Barak repeatedly depicted Netanyahu as boxed in by the more far-right members of the coalition, Religious Zionism Party leader Bezalel Smotrich and Otzma Yehudit Party head Itamar Ben-Gvir.

"We have a short time to free Netanyahu and the country from the grip of Ben-Gvir and Smotrich," he said.

One think tank, Mitvim—The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, put together a working group led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Nimrod Sheffer to build a plan for establishing a Palestinian state after the war.

According to the minutes of the working group's meetings, revealed by Israeli news site HaKol HaYehudi, when it understood that the Israeli public was firmly against a Palestinian state, it decided that American pressure would be needed to force Israel to yield.

“The Americans are the ones that need to lead, craft and manage the process,” the working group's participants concluded. “The US needs to implement policy steps that Israel won’t be able to veto.”

The US, Europe and the UN have ramped up criticism of Netanyahu as the war progresses. On Monday, NBC News reported that President Joe Biden is "venting his frustration" in private over Israel's military tactics, naming "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the primary obstacle."

“'He just feels like this is enough,'” one of the sources said of the views expressed by Biden. 'It has to stop,'" NBC reported.

The US has also offered carrots to try and tempt Netanyahu to accept its two-state solution, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken promising Saudi normalization in exchange for the prime minister's support during a January 18 visit to Israel.

Following Netanyahu's rejection of that offer, Jewish Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on January 19 criticized Netanyahu for his stance, signing onto a statement saying “a two-state solution is the path forward."

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