Barak confident talks can be restarted after meetings in US

“We will have serious discussions in the coming month on security, borders, Jerusalem, refugees,” defense minister says in Washington following meetings with Gates, Panetta, Ross and Biden.

By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER, JPOST.COM STAFF
December 14, 2010 03:11
1 minute read.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak

Barak. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

 
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WASHINGTON – Defense Minister Ehud Barak came away from several days of meetings with US officials confident that there would be progress in restarting talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

“We will have serious discussions in the coming month on security, borders, Jerusalem, refugees,” he told reporters in Washington Monday. “The mechanisms will be resolved in the coming weeks.”

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Though Barak received a rebuke from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu when in a speech in Washington on Friday night he said that Jerusalem would need to be divided in a final peace agreement – after which Netanyahu denied it was government policy -- the defense minister played down the exchange Monday.

“We don’t need to reveal all our positions before negotiations,” he said, though he reaffirmed his comments before the Saban Forum on Friday.

Barak spent Monday meeting with Defense Secretary Bob Gates, CIA director Leon Panetta, senior White House advisor Dennis Ross and Vice President Joe Biden after spending Sunday in New York.

He said the conversation with Gates focused on the strong American commitment to Israel’s security and the need to maintain its Qualitative Military Edge.

In the meeting, Barak raised Jerusalem's fears that as Syria continues to arm Hizbullah with sophisticated weaponry, it could damage Israel’s QME in the region, according to a statement from the defense minister's office.



They also discussed Iran, missile defense and the situation in Lebanon surrounding the expected release of the Hariri tribunal indictments.

Speaking to reporters, Barak emphasized that Israel faces another serious strategic threat that shouldn’t be dismissed: the delegitimization campaign.

“Delegitimization is a threat no less than Hamas or Hizbullah,” he warned.

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