Barak urges PM to endorse 2 states
JPost.com Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to publicly embrace the Road Map and accept US President Barack Obama's Middle East peace initiative.
Speaking to junior high school students in the Knesset, Barak said that Labor had joined the coalition based on the understanding that Netanyahu was committed to previous agreements and would see it as his duty to promote the peace process.
He told the children he hoped Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would say "things that will allow us to continue on the path laid down by Obama," during a major policy address the prime minister is due to give on Sunday.
"You know the government is made up of several parties. Our party, the Labor party, joined the government, among other reasons, because we agreed that this government will abide by all agreements made by previous governments. That's why we think we should clearly state that we commend President Obama's initiative, that we are committed to the Road Map and that we want two states for two peoples, all this without compromising on our security concerns."
Barak also referred to Obama's recent speech to the Arab world from Cairo. "We may not like every word and maybe if one of you or me would have written it, we would have written it in a way which emphasizes our place here in Israel and in history…. But it was still a speech made in Cairo and intended for the Arab world, and it was important because he still told them important things about our place here and about the need to abandon the path of violence and make peace."
Moving on to the Iranian nuclear issue, Barak said it was "a very serious threat, and all indicators show they are building a nuclear weapon, they are trying to hide it by saying they only want to build power plants. It is their right to claim this, but it is a bit of a funny claim when they have a lot of oil and produce some three million oil barrels a day. They hide their [nuclear] program behind a civilian program and that's why it's very hard to prove [they are building nuclear weapons].
"Now the Obama administration said it wants to talk to the Iranians, try a 'good' approach, as they say. We can't tell them, 'Don't do it,' but we say we believe this dialogue should be short and to the point and that they shouldn't let the Iranians fool them and string them along. When we [in Israel] said we are not taking any options off the table, it's like a hint that we are also considering other things, without talking about them, and we mean it. But because there are cameras and recording equipment here, I cannot say any more than that."
On Tuesday, after meeting with Obama's Mideast envoy George Mitchell, Barak said Israel should cooperate with the US president in seeking an all-inclusive regional accord.
Barak called Obama's efforts to bring an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict "an exceptional opportunity," and said it would be right for Israel to adequately consider its path and properly navigate inside this series of challenges and opportunities."
"It would not be right for Israel to get in the way of American efforts to form a Palestinian state according to the vision of two states for two peoples," Barak said.