Ben-Eliezer warns of establishment of binational state

Infrastructures minister slams peace talks as virtual negotiations, says in absence of deal Arab Israelis will set up nationalist movement.

National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer on Saturday strongly criticized the ongoing peace talks with the Palestinians, warned of a binational state in Israel and reiterated his call to free jailed Tanzim leader Maran Barghouti. Speaking at a 'Cultural Shabbat' event in Haifa, Ben-Eliezer said the current peace talks were "virtual negotiations." "Only freeing Barghouti can change the picture. I respect [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas and [PA Prime Minister Salaam] Fayad. They are good people. But what happened to the 60,000 weapons transferred to them? Everything is now under Hamas's control. I am looking for someone with who a deal can be closed," he said. The infrastructures minister warned that Hamas could soon take control of the West Bank. At this rate, Hamas will soon take over the West Bank. In my opinion, the only one who can stop this is Marwan Barghouti." He said that in the absence of a peace deal, a third Arab nationalist movement would be set up which in turn would lead to the establishment of a binational state on Israeli territory "What have we achieved in 41 years of settlements in the territories? Two Palestinian nationalist movements," continued the infrastructures minister." At this rate, we will get a third nationalist movement comprised of Arab Israelis. We were heading toward a binational state and therefore, we have a great interest , more than the Palestinians, of reaching a deal, if we want to retain our small Zionist Israel." Regarding recent political developments, Ben-Eliezer, estimated that the next political contest will be between Labor and Likud. "I am not certain that Kadima will disappear, but the public have a long score to settle with [Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert. I will not oppose unification with Kadima, but certainly not before the elections." Regarding Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu Ben-Eliezer said that he was sure the public had not forgotten how, as finance minister he was onlcy concerned about the wealthier sectors of society. Concerning Labor chairman Ehud Barak, Ben-Eliezer said that he was currently "the most important figure for Israel due to the security challenges we face which preferably should remain undisclosed to the public." Nevertheless, he said Barak understands a lot about security and defense but much less about politics and stressed that the defense minister therefore needed a strong support base.