Barak to Ashton: Palestinian UN bid counterproductive

Defense minister says negotiations only way to reach peaceful solution; EU foreign affairs chief in region in last-minute bid to restart talks.

Catherine Ashton and Ehud Barak_311 (photo credit: Ariel Harmony / Defense Ministry)
Catherine Ashton and Ehud Barak_311
(photo credit: Ariel Harmony / Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton during her visit to the country, reiterating to her that the Palestinian decision to head to the UN is misguided and "counterproductive," adding that negotiations were the only way to reach a peaceful solution with the Palestinian leadership.
Ashton, who was in the region for a last-minute bid to bring Palestinians and Israelis back to the negotiating table before the Palestinian Authority heads to the United Nations seeking statehood recognition, stressed on Saturday that the EU wanted to help restart peace talks.
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"That is why I am traveling to the region this weekend,” she said.
Ashton has not officially announced whether or not the EU would block the Palestinian Authority's state-recognition bid at the UN, but has said that the resumption of negotiations remains the top priority for the EU.
The EU policy chief has been highly vocal in response to recent Israeli announcements of housing construction in the settlement of Ariel and in east Jerusalem, and said that such moves threaten "the viability of a two-state solution" and derail any attempts to bring both parties back to the negotiating table.
Ashton was scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during her visit.
Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.