Well, there are probably two reasons and they are linked to each other. I think that there is a personal reason, maybe he feels that it is time for him to leave. And the second reason is that at the moment it doesn’t seem that he is going to be reelected to the Knesset, and he decided that given this situation after so many years he would rather not participate in the elections.
As far as the last military operation is concerned, there was a great deal of mutual understanding between the idea of the Israeli defense forces – the military, and the Minister of Defense – Mr. Barak. I really don’t think that would be the main reason.
I think he’s lost his political way in many respects, not his way as the Minister of Defense. After all he was the architect of the position that there is no partner after his discussion with Arafat. And now he is saying that there is a partner but the Government is not listening to him. So, I think that either he decided that his personal standing is not strong enough or he was very careful to say that he is leaving politics which means that his party is not going to participate in the election or he is not going to participate in the election and consequently he is not going to be the member of the Knesset.
This leaves the possibility that he could be appointed as a minister, even the Minister of Defense by the next Prime Minister as a non-member of the Knesset, this is possible. So, I would rather go for the other explanation and not for any problems within the military establishment.
He said that there is a partner for negotiations. Whom does he see as a partner?
Well, he’s been saying for the last few years that the Israeli Government should negotiate with the Palestinian leader, with Abu Mazen. And he was rather critical of the Netanyahu Government for not doing so which is not exactly what he used to do when he was the Prime Minister. But this is ten years later and I think this could be a difference between him and the Prime Minster.
As an expert, do you believe in negotiations with Abu Mazen?
I think there is no other way, I mean it doesn’t make sense to opt for going into war with the Hamas without at least trying to negotiate with somebody who is willing to negotiate even for the simple reason that if Israel wants to isolate the Hamas – what could be more logical than having a negotiation or even an agreement with the Fatah, with the rivals of the Hamas in the West Bank. I think that Israel is making a very grave mistake by not seizing the opportunity of having a moderate leader who is willing to negotiate with Israel on everything as he said.
Last week I suppose, I saw some reports saying that Fatah is in negotiations with Hamas. Is that really so?
I really don’t know. Yes, I’ve seen the reports and probably there’s been negotiation going on. They’ve also had many agreements in the past of having some kind of mutual understanding. So, I will not be surprised that this is going on right now. But basically the rivalry and animosity between Fatah and Hamas is as strong as perhaps the animosity between Israel and the two parties. So, maybe something is going on but I haven’t seen any results yet.