Barak to Abbas: 'Return to the table'

Barak to Abbas Return

At an IAF flight school graduation ceremony Thursday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to reengage in the Middle East peace process. Abbas is expected to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Sunday, when the two leaders are expected to discuss the US-backed peace initiative. Barak said at the ceremony, "We must explore every possibility to advance a regional peace arrangement, based on an agreement with our Palestinian neighbors, based on the Road Map, the concept of two states for two people, and a declaration of an end to this long running conflict." The defense minister added that "we once again call on the Palestinian leadership and Mahmoud Abbas to show responsibility to his countrymen and to return to the negotiating table, in order to achieve the hoped for peace." IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi also participated in the ceremony. He pointed out the dangers and threats that Israel faces. "At this very hour a number of threats are gathering, both near and far away." The IDF chief went on to say that "standing against all these threats…are these same newly-minted pilots, along with the IAF family, to defend Israel."