Barak calls for 'regional solution'

Defense minister urges cooperation with US; FM calls Arab initiative "a recipe for Israel's destruction."

ehud barak 248.88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
ehud barak 248.88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday reiterated his support for a two-state solution, in effect aligning himself - with reservations vis-à-vis the refugee issue - the Arab initiative for peace with Israel, which Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman earlier rejected as "dangerous." "An Israeli plan for a regional solution is a central axis of Israel's policy in the coming years and a key to ensuring Israel's future in the region," Barak said in a meeting. "Israel must cooperate with the US in formulating the details of the solution, which will also ensure Israel's security interests… and Israel's Jewish character, without allowing a right of return." Barak has come out on the side of the Obama administration regarding the Arab initiative, which he said should be the basis of Israel's approach to peace talks, sans the Arab world's stipulation that Israel abide by UN Resolution 194 and allow Palestinian refugees to resettle within Israel. Lieberman, however, warned that the Arab plan was "a dangerous plan, a recipe for Israel's destruction." Hours earlier, speaking alongside visiting King Abdullah II of Jordan, US President Barack Obama called the plan a "very constructive start." Lieberman, who was speaking at a Foreign Ministry meeting Tuesday night, emphasized that the most problematic aspect of the initiative was that it called for a Palestinian right of return, Army Radio reported. Only three weeks ago the incoming foreign minister in effect reversed the Israeli diplomatic policy of the last two years, saying Jerusalem was not obligated by the Annapolis process. MK Ophir Pines (Labor) slammed the foreign minister, saying his statements on the peace process were harmful. "Lieberman is conducting himself like an bull in a china shop and is inflicting strategic damage on Israel's interests," Pines said in a statement. "In light of Lieberman's remarks it is uncertain whether or not there is any point to the meeting between Netanyahu and Obama." Pines did not spare Barak and Netanyahu, whose "silence in the wake of these remarks," he said, "constitutes acquiescence on their part."