RAMALLAH, May 8 (JMCC) - Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak
told a conference that without a change in policies, Israel
would soon be accused of apartheid or ethnic cleansing, reports Haaretz
An essential condition for improving relations with the US is taking steps that prove Israel is seriously committed to making decisions on the Palestinian issue once they reach the negotiating table, Barak said at a conference at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot.Read
That will be judged by deeds, not by how much we smile at the White House. A comprehensive peace plan is needed, one that Israel stands behind. I'm not sure that that is possible with the current government, Barak said.
Without an agreement, we will be subject to international isolation, and we will suffer a fate similar to that of Belfast or Bosnia, or a gradual transition from a paradigm of two states for two peoples to one of one state for two peoples, and some people will try to label us as similar to South Africa. That's why we must act, Barak said. If both sides are willing to make brave decisions, he said, it will be possible to get to direct negotiations and a breakthrough toward an agreement.
In talks last week with Netanyahu and Barak, Mitchell asked that Israel make confidence-building measures over the next few weeks, both to build up PA institutions and encourage the Palestinians to shift more quickly to direct talks.
A senior official in Jerusalem said Israel would take such steps in the coming weeks, probably including the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, the removal of additional checkpoints and the transfer of certain West Bank areas to PA security control.
the story at Haaretz