Sunday's cabinet meeting devoted to the discussion of US Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts to renew the direct peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians exposed wide gaps within the coalition.
During the meeting, Tourism Minister Uzi Landau (Likud-Beiteinu) mentioned a statement by the late Abba Eban, according to which an Israeli withdrawal from the territory it captured during the 1967 war would mark a return to "Auschwitz borders."
Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz (Hatnua), on the other hand, said any future peace agreement with the Palestinians would be based on these borders.
"Certainly, any diplomatic agreement will be based on the '67 borders and land swaps," he said. "The moment of truth has come, and Kerry's presence in the region is extremely important. I hope the Israeli president (Shimon Peres), who is in Jordan, will make statements that will jumpstart the process."
Kerry-Netanyahu meeting (Video: GPO)
Minister Landau warned: "The legendary foreign minister Abba Eban once said that the 1967 borders were 'Auschwitz borders.' What country wants to (withdraw) to borders it cannot protect?"
Landau was referring to an interview Eban gave to German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel in 1969, in which he said: "The June (1967) map is for us equivalent to insecurity and danger. I do not exaggerate when I say that it has for us something of a memory of Auschwitz."
Kerry told a press conference in Tel Aviv on Friday that Israeli and Palestinian leaders must take "hard decisions" to restart talks.
"It is clear that in the long run the status quo is not sustainable," Kerry said, noting that the "one way" to peace was through direct talks.
"We're getting toward a time now when hard decisions need to be made," he said at the end of his fourth visit to the region since he took office in February.
"Ultimately it is the Israeli and Palestinian people who both decide the outcome... and who will get the greatest benefits" from a resumption of talks, Kerry said following meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
"I made clear in my discussions that the parties should be focused on making progress toward...direct negotiations," he said on Friday, adding that each side needed to "refrain from provocative rhetoric or actions ... that take us backwards."
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