Barak hints he won't leave coalition

Says political stability must be considered at a critical time for Israel's security, Gaza op "probable."

barak 224.88 (photo credit:)
barak 224.88
(photo credit: )
Defense Minister Ehud Barak hinted on Thursday that he would not leave the coalition as promised, even if next week's Winograd report on the Second Lebanon War is damning. Speaking to The Associated Press at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, Barak said "accountability" on his part must be weighed against political stability at a critical time for Israel's security, and the quiet but possibly critical peace talks with the Palestinians. "How exactly to balance between those two elements, that's what I will have to bear in mind when making my decision," he said. Barak attended the conference as part of a high-level delegation that included Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and President Shimon Peres. Barak referred to recent developments in the Gaza Strip, saying the government was still considering a large-scale military operation to counter continuing rocket attacks, but added that Israel would not rush "to reconquer" the seaside strip. "Probably we will find ourselves there," Barak said. "We are not rushing to reconquer Gaza, but we will not remove any option from the table when it comes to the security of our citizens." Turning to the issue of peace negotiations with the Palestinians, Barak said 80 percent of Israelis now agreed with the idea of a Palestinian state and a withdrawal to the 1967 borders. Asked if the government would offer to the Palestinians what he did in 2000 - a near total-pullout and a division of sorts of Jerusalem - Barak replied: "Not these terms necessarily to the last detail. The key, he said, was that "most Israelis now understand that two states for two nations is a compelling imperative." "If there is no two-state solution, if there is only one entity called Israel reigning over the whole area, it will become inevitably either non-Jewish or non-democratic."