Barak: We can't have it both ways with Palestinian unity

Defense minister says that with all new regional developments, there are dangers and opportunities; discusses Iranian nuclear deterrence.

May 9, 2011 07:54
1 minute read.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

ehud barak 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Israel can't have it both ways opposing holding negotiations with a unified Palestinian government all the while insisting it cannot negotiate with a divided Palestinian government, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday.

For years, Israel has been telling the world that there's a problem in negotiating with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas because he doesn't control the whole of Palestinian territories, Barak told Israel Radio in a Memorial Day interview.

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Barak noted that the moment Hamas joins a Palestinian government, Israel cannot say: "'Oh no,' we can't talk to [Abbas] now" because Hamas is in the government.

The defense minister said that if Hamas accepts the principles laid out by the Quartet, that Israel would be willing to hold talks with the Palestinians.

Discussing the issue in a wider regional context, he said, "In every development, from Bahrain and especially with the Palestinians, there are dangers and there are opportunities" in the changes taking place.

Asked whether recent statements by Hamas indicating a new willingness to think in terms of a two-state solution represent a change in the terrorist organization, Barak said, "If the Hamas ceases to be the Hamas that we know [today]," then we'll be in a different situation.

Barak also discussed the Iranian nuclear program, saying that although he doesn't believe Iran would "wake up on Wednesday and decide to [fire] nuclear weapons at us or at any of its neighbors," if its religious leadership finds itself in a bunker, there's no telling what it might do.

He contrasted that possibility with what he described as the relative stability of Cold War nuclear deterrence between the Pentagon in Washington and the Politburo in Moscow.

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