Barak: Israel must seek peace as US pursues Iran
Labor chairman explains to his faction that 'fundamental change' needed in relations with US, and claims Washington expects Israel 'to mobilize in places it can help' and show 'far-reaching political initiative' while former works on sanctions against Iran and addresses North Korea, Somalia
Barak is certain where Israel must focus its efforts in the international arena. "The Americans are trying to organize sanctions against Iran, are busy stopping North Korea, and other countries like Somalia and Yemen," said Defense Minister Ehud Barak Monday during a Labor faction meeting.
"Therefore, they expect Israel, too, as a friend, to mobilize in the areas in which it can help the overall effort – in other words, in a peace agreement with the Palestinians," Barak asserted.
Barak also explained, "A fundamental change is required in our relations with the US. We cannot do this without a far-reaching political initiative on our part."
He warned against Israel being depicted as refusing peace, and outlined, "Our real challenge is to look over the small things and march toward the challenge and opportunity encased in Israeli political initiative towards negotiation and agreement."
Barak made these statements on the backdrop of last week's launch of proximity talks with the Palestinians. "We are at the most sensitive juncture in which trust must be increased and suspicion reduced," he said. "Despite this, a political breakthrough cannot be achieved through proximity talks. Therefore, we must reach direct talks as quickly as possible in which we discuss all the core issues."
Barak laid out the principles of a future peace agreement with the Palestinians, as he sees them. "A border must be drawn within the historic land of Israel based on security and demographic considerations, with a Jewish country with a Jewish solid majority for generations on one side, and a demilitarized Palestinian state with economic and political vitality on the other side.
"In this agreement, the major settlement blocs will remain within Israel's borders. The issue of refugees must be settled in the Palestinian state. The issue of Jerusalem will be concluded in a final-status agreement. Upon signing this agreement, the end of the conflict will be declared as well as an end of the mutual demands."