WASHINGTON – Defense Minister Ehud Barak on
Friday night said he supported a plan to divide Jerusalem, as suggested by former United States President Bill Clinton in 2000.
During a speech at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy's seventh annual forum in Washington, Barak noted that the western part of the capital and the Jewish neighborhood belonged to Israel,
while neighborhoods with dense Arab populations should be under Palestinian control.
The defense minister stressed that any future peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians must include a declaration stating that the conflict has ended and that the sides cannot make additional claims. He added that strict security arrangements must also be included in such an agreement.
We need to demarcate Israel's borders so to secure a solid majority of Jews on the one hand, and a demilitarized Palestinian state on the other, he added.
Barak also noted that the settlement blocks must remain under Israeli sovereignty while the few isolated settlements should be returned home.
The defense minister commented on the current regional situation, saying that Israel finds itself yet again in a critical junction of opportunities and challenges, wedged between negotiations with its neighbors and the radical camp of Hezbollah, Hamas and global terror networks.
Without a peace process, he noted, both Israel and the Palestinians will fall back into a cycle of bloodshed and violence.
"We must find a way to renew negotiations; we must overcome suspicion," he said, adding, "There is no contradiction between a two-state solution and the security of Israel."
Barak reiterated the need for a two-state solution and noted that the world is no longer willing to accept Israel's continuous control over another nation.
United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also spoke during the conference,
and stressed that core issues need to be resolved.
Clinton also reiterated the United States' active role in future negotiations.