Tuesday, May 11, 2010

haaretz:Barak: Israel must propose its own peace initiative

Barak: Israel must propose its own peace initiative

Defense Minister tells Knesset committee that U.S. is 'determined' to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/barak-israel-must-propose-its-own-peace-initiative-1.289587

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday that Israel must come out with a far-reaching peace initiative to improve its relations with the United States.

Speaking at the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Barak said, "a change is required in our relations with the United States ... Only a serious peace plan with the Palestinians can put an end" to the deterioration of this relationship.

The new initiative must address the core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he added.

"If the government cannot do this in its existing make-up, perhaps it should consider expanding," Barak said. "The continued occupation of another nation is no less dangerous that an entanglement with our worst enemies."

At Labor's faction meeting later that day, MK Amir Peretz demanded that Barak, the party chairman, present the faction with a proper peace plan that would serve as the basis for
talks with the Palestinians once the proximity talks conclude. And should the proximity talks fail to lead to direct negotiations, he added, Barak must "be ready with a plan that will change Israel's political map"

Barak also told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the U.S. has altered its
approach to the Iranian nuclear threat and is now much more determined to face down Tehran.

"We see a change in the American approach," he said. "The [U.S.] administration is determined to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. They are being much more
active."

And though he warned that Israel faces the risk of a "long-term erosion in its international standing," Barak said he does not think the new international push for a nuclear-weapons-free Middle East poses "a real or significant danger to Israel's traditional stance of nuclear ambiguity."

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