Barak with Jim Jones
Photo: Ariel Hermoni, Defense Ministry

Barak tells US not to expect the 'irrational'

Summing up his visit to Washington, defense minister tells reporters he wants US administration to 'tone down volume' on public remarks regarding disputed settlement activity in order to conduct debate in respectful fashion

WASHINGTON – Defense Minister Ehud Barak said after summing up a round of meetings in Washington Wednesday that any public debate between the US and Israel "should take place in a mutual and respectful fashion".


Speaking at a press conference with Israeli journalists, Barak said the US government should "tone down the volume" on the public debate so that it could focus on the core of the issues at stake.


The defense minister said he had told US officials the Israeli government agrees that a regional accord should be striven for, and that the Palestinian issue should be at its focus.


"Not everything is agreed upon, there is a debate and they are looking for the right way to gather Israeli support for the activation of the peace process while maintaining Israel's vital interests," he said.


Regarding the American demand for the freezing of all settlement activity Barak said, "There needs to be rational conduct that is connected to real life; you can't just expect irrational things to happen."


'No option off the table'

He said Israel had informed the US that it planned to honor previous commitments on the Palestinians and illegal West Bank outposts, and to promote regional peace.


"We will assist with anything else, such as risking the opening of various checkpoints. Regarding the evacuation of outposts, it will take time to smooth this over with the Americans, but I am leaving these talks more optimistic," Barak said.


He added that he had received the impression that the US was committed to Israeli security, but that the political process geared by the two countries would probably be prone to conflict. He stressed that conflict was a natural occurrence.


Barak also referred to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's Moscow speech, in which he said Israel has no plans to attack Iran. "Israel is taking no option off the table," he said.


The defense minister traveled to Washington in part in order to offer himself as an attenuating factor in the debate between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rightist government and the Obama administration.


During his visit he met with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and National Security Advisor, Jim Jones.


To Obama, with whom he met for 15 minutes, Barak expressed Jerusalem's interests regarding the demands to freeze construction in settlements. He said Israel was willing to remove 22 illegal outposts out of the 26 established since 2001.


פרסום ראשון: 06.03.09, 19:16
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