Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the most left-wing and most influential minister in the right-wing government, is on his way to Washington for talks with top Obama Administration officials.
Lebanon, Iran - But Nothing on Palestinian Authority
Before his departure, he granted an interview to the Washington Post, two points of which made headlines - yet some hard questions were not asked. Barak said that if Hizbullah attacks Israel, as it did in 2006, “we will not run after each Hezbollah terrorist or launcher… We will see it as legitimate to hit any target that belongs to the Lebanese state, not just to Hizbullah." The Defense Minister also said that sanctions against Iran are not likely to be effective in the long run.
The Post described its interview with Barak as “wide-ranging,” but did not provide a precise transcript thereof. The article portrayed him as more peace-seeking than Netanyahu, and even asked him to give grades to Netanyahu’s love for peace. Excerpts:
“Barak said Israel must put forward a peace plan … Abbas [is] skeptical of Netanyahu's sincerity… Asked whether Netanyahu shared Barak's belief in the need for an Israeli peace initiative that addresses the core conflict, Barak said Netanyahu had convinced Obama at their July 6 meeting that he ‘is there. But, of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. We have to prove it in actions, in the negotiations.’"
Barak's Peace Plan
Minister Barak is quoted as having said that Israel “must put forward a peace plan that delineates the borders of a Palestinian state, ensures a Jewish majority inside Israel, solves the Palestinian refugee problem and offers a ‘reasonable solution’ for the future of Jerusalem.” Also noted is “Barak's failed attempt to reach an agreement with then-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.” The article did not specify that Barak actually offered 98% of Judea, Samaria and Gaza at that time, 1% of the Negev, “custodianship” over the Temple Mount, and the entry of some Arab refugees from 1948. The Palestinian Authority rejected all of the above.
Interviewer Janine Zacharia also did not ask Barak what part of the above offer he feels Netanyahu should now “improve upon” in order to entice the Palestinian Authority to agree to make peace with Israel.
It has been suggested that the demolition of a Jewish home in the Shomron (Samaria) on Monday morning was a strategic decision by Barak on two fronts. It may him points with the US officials with whom he plans to meet, including Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, and may sabotage the visit of fellow Cabinet Minister Avigdor Lieberman – a long-time Barak rival – to the Shomron on Monday.