Barak: WikiLeaks keeping US from finalizing freeze deal

Defense minister tells Knesset committee that US preoccupied and process completely stalled; deal would need to be approved by congress.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
December 7, 2010 15:13
1 minute read.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

ehud barak 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Defense Minister Ehud Barak Tuesday told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that a deal was never reached with the United States on a renewed settlement freeze because the US is preoccupied with the mass of documents being released by WikiLeaks.

Barak said, "At the moment, it has been completely halted" because of what he called a loss of American attention and concentration, saying they were "very busy with North Korea and the WikiLeaks releases."

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The defense minister added that the "understandings the prime minister [Binyamin Netanyahu] reached [with US Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton were a gentleman's agreement and not finalized." He continued, "The US now needs to get congressional approval [for the deal]."

Netanyahu met with Clinton in New York last month in a marathon session to find a way to renew peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, which have been stalled for several months since a 10-month settlement freeze expired. The Palestinians have refused to return to the negotiating table until Israel reinstates a West Bank building moratorium.

Netanyahu and Clinton reportedly reached an agreement whereby Israel would institute another three-month freeze in exchange for a package of incentives, including 20 F35 advanced fighter planes. Israel has delayed a security cabinet vote on the freeze pending US delivery of written assurances of the understandings agreed upon.

The letter has not yet arrived.


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