'Barak: Establishment of a Palestinian state is legitimate'

Defense minister says Obama "is a friend of Israel," calls on Palestinians to return to negotiations; says Israel did not cause Arab Spring and expresses regret that Mubarak was forced to step down.

ehud barak 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
ehud barak 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday night said that the establishment of a Palestinian state is "legitimate," and called on the Palestinians to immediately return to the negotiation table without preconditions, he said in an interview with CNN, Army Radio reported.
Discussing peace negotiations, the defense minister said that "compromise will be painful, but I do not believe that it is impossible," according to the report.
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Barak made the statements as Israeli and Palestinian diplomats gathered in New York ahead of upcoming sessions of the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council, at which Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to bring the issue of Palestinian statehood and membership in the world body to a vote.
Additionally, while addressing the political upheaval in the Middle East since the beginning of the year, the defense minister said that Israel had nothing to do with the unrest, and expressed regret that Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in Egypt, the report said.
He added that US President Barak Obama "is a friend of Israel."
On Tuesday Barak met with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, and succeeding in garnering his support to vote against Palestinian statehood in the United Nations Security Council session on Friday.
In addition to discussing the Palestinian issue, the two also discussed the "challenges of international terrorism and ways the two countries can cooperate in this area." Nigeria, one of Israel's closest friends in Africa, has been plagued over the last number of years by radical Islamic terrorism.
Gabon has not yet decided if it will back the Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations, Army Radio reported on Tuesday.
Israel was sure that the west central African country would support the bid and give the Palestinian Authority a majority in the Security Council.
Should Gabon decide to not support the bid, the resolution would not pass and the United States would not need to use its veto.