Barak to Blair: Israel looking for breakthrough in talks

Defense minister tells Quartet representative that Israel welcomes him as part of international effort; Blair says those de-legitimizing Israel are attacking the values others share with her.

Barak Blair 311 (photo credit: Defense Ministry)
Barak Blair 311
(photo credit: Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak met Tuesday with Quartet representative Tony Blair and told him that Israel hopes for a breakthrough in negotiations with the Palestinians.
Barak was referring to the recent announcement that direct negotiations will resume by telling Blair that Israel cordially welcomes him on his visit to Israel as part of the Quartet's efforts, along with the United States and others, to bring about a breakthrough negotiations.
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"Israel and the Palestinians will need to make courageous decisions during the negotiations," Barak added.
Barak said that "Israel is prepared to do so, while safeguarding its vital interests, and we hope that the other side will find the strength to do so as well."
Blair later spoke at a conference on the de-legitimization of Israel at the Inter-Disciplinary Center in Herzliya and said that those in the world who want to de-legitimize Israel are also de-legitimizing those around the world who share Israel’s values and admire its free spirit.
Blair said that the “best answer to the de-legitimization of Israel lies in the character of Israel and in the openness and creativity of the Israelis."
Barak and Blair's comments came almost a week after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced on Friday that direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians were set to commence at the beginning of September and within a year should lead to the resolution of all final status issues.
Blair continued saying it was important not only for Israelis to fight against attempts to de-ligitimzie it, but also people around the world who share its values. He said that there were two kinds of de-legimization.
The first, he said, was practiced by Iranian Presdient Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who talks about wiping Israel off the map. That version, he said, is easier to deal with, because it is so open and blatant.
The other, perhaps more pernicious kind, is those who either consciously or not, resist or refuse to accept the idea “that Israel has a legitimate point of view."
Blair, in a very warm speech, said that a consistent conversation he has had with European colleagues is “not to apply rules to the government of Israel that you would never dream of applying to your own government or country."