Barak at women's conference
Photo: Ido Erez
Still believes in diplomacy. Biden (Archives)
Photo: Reuters

Barak hopes indirect talks will lead to negotiations on core issues

Ahead of Biden's visit, defense minister says, 'It is the Israeli leadership's duty to make certain we do not miss another opportunity,' adding 'Abbas will have make some difficult decisions'

"I hope the indirect talks with the Palestinians will help advance the peace process in such a way that they will facilitate actual negotiations on the core issues and eventually lead to an agreement," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Sunday evening.


The core issues include the future of Jerusalem, borders and the Palestinian refugees.


Speaking at a women's conference in Herzliya, Barak said Saturday's meeting with US Mideast envoy George Mitchell and his expected meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden this week "are part of the intensive efforts that are important to any citizen who cares about the country's future.



"Now more than ever, I believe that it is the Israeli leadership's duty to make certain we do not miss another opportunity, and this means a willingness to make some difficult decisions that will require support from all corners of the political establishment," said the defense minister.


Earlier Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Mitchell, but no details were made available. The two are expected to meet again Monday morning, before Mitchell heads to Ramallah for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.


Barak continued to say that "Abbas will also have to make some difficult decisions regarding his own people. Peace is in the interest of all sides involved."


Also on Sunday, a skeptical Palestinian leadership agreed to begin US-mediated peace talks with Israel, effectively ending a 14-month breakdown in communications between the two sides.


During Biden's visit, Israeli officials are expected to urge the US to impose "crippling" sanctions on Iran, as part of the effort to curb its nuclear program.


Israel wants the sanctions to include a ban on the sale of gas to Iran, but the US is currently opposed to such a harsh measure.


A senior Israeli official said resuming talks with the Palestinians "would create an atmosphere in the Arab world and the international community that would allow the world to focus on the real threat – Iran."


IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon are scheduled to leave for the US this week, where Obama administration officials are expected to call for Israeli restraint regarding a possible military strike on Iran's nuclear sites. Biden, for his part, will tell Israeli officials that the US still believes Iran's nuclear program can be stopped through economic and diplomatic means.


A senior Israeli official said Sunday night, "Nuclear weapons in the hands of an enemy of Israel such as (Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad, who arms Hamas, Hezbollah and Syria can seriously hurt Israel's home front. This situation is intolerable as far as we are concerned.


"The US must lead a move that will include economic pressure on Iran, even if Russia and the European countries join in later," he said.


AP contributed to the report 


פרסום ראשון: 03.07.10, 22:22
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