'Ruling others erodes our global status'

Defense minister says peace possible without sacrificing security.

ehud barak 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
ehud barak 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Israel’s continued control over the Palestinians is eroding Israel’s global standing, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Monday.
“We won’t give up anything connected to security, but it’s important to say that continuing to control another nation is very problematic,” he said at the Labor faction meeting. “We can reach an agreement to end this without sacrificing our security. “
Saying that ruling over the Palestinians “causes our erosion internationally,” Barak called for Israel to present a peace plan “on all diplomatic issues.”
"We can make tough decisions and the other side must too,” he said. “That’s why we’re in the government.”
Barak said that the proximity talks with the Palestinian Authority which were launched Sunday were a “short stage on way to direct negotiations and hopefully a breakthrough and an agreement with the Palestinians.”
Earlier Monday, amid concerns that cracks are appearing in the nearly half-century-old US policy of upholding Israel’s right to maintain its “nuclear ambiguity,” Barak said that he didn’t believe there was a real threat to the policy.
“We are currently facing a danger of a long-term erosion of Israel global standing,” he told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. “But I don’t think there’s a real danger or threat to this traditional (nuclear) stance.”
It follows reports that Israeli nuclear capabilities are, for the first time, scheduled to be on the agenda of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) board meeting next month.
Barak expressed optimism over the change in US tone concerning the Iranian nuclear program.
“In the past, they spoke of not 'being prepared to accept' a nuclear Iran,” he said. “But now they have started using expressions like the administration being 'determined to prevent Iran turning into a nuclear power.' I sense progress and an understanding of the need to stop Iran going nuclear.”
Barak sought to downplay the perceived tensions in the North, saying that “there is no need for us to find ourselves in a conflict this summer, despite the warning from Jordan’s king."
“No one wants the situation to escalate – neither Syria nor us,” he continued, while warning Israel’s enemies not to force its hand. “We are ready and monitoring the situation though. Israel is powerful and has a strong deterrence.”