barak hilary 311.
(photo credit: AP)
WASHINGTON – US officials are looking for Israel to take risks in pursuit of an aggressive peace process, according to Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Barak, who backs intensive efforts, spoke to reporters late Thursday at the end of a five-day visit to the United States.
“They want to see an Israel that takes its security seriously but is
ready to take risks to advance an assertive peace process,” he said of
the message he received in meetings with top American officials.
Barak argued that Israel should present such an initiative, as it’s “the
only way to achieve real freedom to do what we need to do for
He also said it was important to remove the “mines” from the
relationship between the two countries, particularly as the United
States faces other regional challenges including Iraq and Afghanistan.
On Wednesday and Thursday Barak met with Vice President Joe Biden, US
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, National Security Advisor Jim Jones,
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel and several members of
The Israeli-Palestinian peace process, policy toward Gaza, Iran and the
recent Non-Proliferation Treaty conference at the UN – which singled out
Israel in a concluding document signed onto by the US – were central
subjects of their conversation.
On Gaza, Barak explained details of Israel’s commitment to ease the flow
of goods and its willingness to see the Palestinian Authority return to
manning the land crossings.
Barak said that he raised the issue of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad
Shalit – who was captured four years ago – at every meeting he held.
“It's our duty to bring him back, but not at any cost,” he said. “We
will continue dealing with this in the coming days and weeks until he
Barak’s visit, timed to coincident with the Socialist International
conference held earlier in the week in New York, come ahead of a July 6
trip to Washington by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The PM was
originally supposed to come at the beginning of June, but canceled to be
in Jerusalem to deal with the fallout from Israel’s deadly raid on a
flotilla attempted to break the Gaza naval blockade.