Barak: Obama's speech lets us leave differences behind

Lieberman also comments on PM's "complex" US meetings, notes Jerusalem will not negotiate Palestinian right of return.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN, JPOST.COM STAFF
May 23, 2011 16:02
2 minute read.
Avigdor Lieberman

Avigdor Lieberman 521. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Defense Minster Ehud Barak on Monday said he thought US President Barack Obama's Sunday speech gives Israel a starting point from where the two countries can put their differences behind and move forward.

"In the end, as our first prime and defense minister David Ben Gurion said, Israel stands on two legs: its power and righteousness," Barak said.

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"That power," he said, "is actualized by the IDF and its strategic abilities, and its righteousness is our international legitimacy, internal unity, and especially the special relationship we have with the United States."

Referring to continuing efforts at preventing the Palestinians from seeking statehood in the United Nations in September, the defense minister said that it was of  "great importance, when facing the uncertainty of the months ahead, to find a way to say: 'Yes, but' - not to hide our hesitation, not to diminish the importance that we give to security concerns." Instead he said, Israel should "find a way to continue moving the Americans, with the Europeans, with whatever is possible to stop the diplomatic tsunami in September."

Earlier Monday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel is ready to resume peace negotiations with the Palestinians "at any moment with no preconditions." Speaking at an Israel Beiteinu meeting, Lieberman's comments came in response to talk surrounding US President Barack Obama's two major speeches in the past week.

Lieberman also offered his support for what he described as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's "complex" meetings in Washington DC. "[Netanyahu] is representing Israeli society, not the press," Lieberman said. "There is no need to turn every dispute into [a] drama. Not everything is an apocalypse."

The foreign minister stressed that Israel and the US have many more commonalities than differences.

On Palestinian demands, Lieberman said, "I hear the mantra of the right of return. Anyone who talks of the right of return means destroying Israel," he said.

"There won't be negotiations on the right of return, not even for one refugee," Lieberman added. "The Palestinians can raise it but we won't accept even one."

The foreign minister wished Netanyahu success on the rest of his United States visit.


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