Barak: Trip to USA for Drafting Agreement With the PA
Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu are traveling to the United States this week to meet with senior White House officials in an effort to draft an agreement to be offered to the Fatah-led half of the Palestinian Authority, under Mahmoud Abbas. Such an agreement, Barak said Tuesday, will include a "viable Palestinian State" and the end of Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.
According to Barak, the Obama administration will be expected to promote the agreed-upon draft to Abbas, in an effort to kick-start Israel-PA talks.
In a Voice of Israel government radio report, Barak was quoted as saying that the negotiations with the PA are intended to reach an agreement that includes "the end of the conflict and all mutual claims, the establishment of an economically and territorially viable Palestinian State alongside Israel, and the end of the occupation that began in 1967."
This would entail, according to the PA's current demands, a full withdrawal of the Israeli military and all 250,000 to 300,000 Jewish civilians in Judea and Samaria. The demand for a statement that the two sides have no further claims has never been accepted by the PA, due to its ongoing demand for unfettered Arab migration into Israel and the belief that Israel was founded entirely on Arab-Muslim lands.
However, Barak told the media that an agreement such as he described with the Palestinian Authority is a vital Israeli interest, because all other options would be far worse.
Minister Barak also praised U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as President Barack Obama's special envoy George Mitchell. They have made significant efforts, according to Barak, to promote negotiations and contacts between Israel and the PA.