Israel’s Defense Minister says at AIPAC conference in Washington, ‘fully fledged agreement is not reasonable’ and suggests interim agreement for immediate future. ‘If that is unobtainable we should consider unilateral action,’ Barak added.
By Yitzhak Benhorin
WASHINGTON – Defense Minister Ehud Barak made a surprising statement Sunday when he said that a “fully fledged” peace deal with the Palestinians was currently impossible.
Speaking at the AIPAC conference in Washington Barak proposed signing an interim agreement which would guarantee Israel’s security. He warned that if such an agreement cannot be reached, Israel would have to take unilateral steps to prevent a bi-national state.
Israel may need to “consider unilateral steps that would include demarcating a line within which Israel would keep the settlement blocs and ensure a Jewish majority for generations to come,” he said. He added that Israel would establish a “long term security presence on the Jordan River.”
Barak stated that a “daring peace initiative for a two-state solution is the only viable long-term solution.”
“It’s not a favor to the Palestinians,” he stressed, ”it’s the only solution.”
The defense minister noted that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had taken bold steps including a settlement construction freeze which did not prompt a proper response by the Palestinians.
Addressing the Iranian issue, the defense minister said that Israel “means it” when she says that all options are on the table. “And we expect all who say it to mean it.”
On Sunday, Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet meeting that Iran continues to stall for time in negotiations with the West regarding its nuclear program.
‘Barak snubbed by Turkish FM’
Meanwhile, Turkish paper Today’s Zaman said that Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu refused to shake hands with Minister Barak at the Munich Security Conference held in early February.
Davutoğlu did not shake hands with Barak, thus rejecting an attempt by US and German officials to break the ice between Turkey and Israel during a dinner hosted by Bavarian Premier Horst Seehofer on the sidelines of the conference last month.
According to the report, a seating plan prepared by US and German officials put Davutoğlu next to Seehofer and US Vice President Joe Biden, and Barak opposite the Turkish minister. When officials sitting in Davutoğlu’s row started to shake hands with the figures sitting opposite them, the Turkish minister immediately stood up and greeted the Macedonian and Croatian presidents.
Seeing Davutoğlu not responding to his attempt to shake his hand, Barak said, “As the distance between the two sides of the table is wide, we could not reach each other’s hand.” Davutoğlu replied: “No, the problem is not the size of the table. There will always be a distance between us unless you meet our demands.”
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