Barak at Tuesday's reception
Photo: Ofer Amram
Netanyahu and Obama
Defense Minister Ehud Barak revealed his plan for an accord with the Palestinians on Tuesday, hinting at the points Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to present in his upcoming speech before the US Congress and President Barack Obama.
Speaking at a reception held traditionally for combat soldiers at IDF Headquarters in Tel Aviv, Barak said Israel was prepared to take "courageous steps" to bring about peace.
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"On the eve of this Independence Day, Israel is the strongest country within a radius of 1,500 km from Jerusalem," Barak said.
"This position of power and self-confidence requires that it form a brave and expansive plan to block this political tsunami coming towards us ahead of September," he added, referring to a planned declaration of Palestinian statehood scheduled for that month.
Barak said Israel was prepared to "make difficult decisions" so long as its security and relations with the US remain intact.
He then presented his plan, which includes:
- "A permanent border set according to security and demography concerns in a manner in which settlement blocs and neighborhoods in Jerusalem remain under Israeli sovereignty, and land exchanges that will leave in the hands of the Palestinians territory similar to that which was their land before '67,
- "Security arrangements which include permanent (military) presence along the Jordan River and guarantee that the demilitarized Palestinian state does not become another Gaza or Lebanon,
- "Settlement of refugees in the Palestinian state,
- "Agreed-upon arrangements in the holy area of Jerusalem,
- "And most importantly, an end to the conflict and the mutual demands, in addition to recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, and the Palestinian state as the nation state of the Arab Palestinians."
Barak added that these conditions have been Israel's demands since the year 2000. He also called on the world to accept the Mideast Quartet's conditions and "disassemble the infrastructure of terror in Gaza", and to recognize Israel as well as its arrangements with the Palestinian Authority.
Regarding kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, Barak said the government would attempt to bring him home, but "not at any price".
In addition to the Quartet's conditions, Barak said, "I would add the demand understood by any civilized person to first and foremost allow the Red Cross to see Gilad Shalit."
Attila Somfalvi, Hanan Greenberg, and Elior Levy contributed to this report
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