Barak Says 'Little Hope' of Breakthrough With PA
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday that there was little hope for a breakthrough in the peace process after Israeli and Palestinian Authority negotiators met this week.
The talks between PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and Netanyahu-envoy Yitzhak Molcho in Amman, Jordan were the first direct discussions between Israel and the PA in 15 months.
At the meeting the two sides exchanged position papers.
The US State Department told reporters the pair is expected to reconvene in Amman next Monday.
“It is clear to me that the document presented to Yitzhak Molcho by Saeb Erekat is unacceptable in its present state, and I imagine that the Palestinians will not accept what was presented by Molcho,” Barak told Israel's Channel 2. “Long negotiations await us.”
Observers note, however, that Barak may not view a quick final status agreement as the ultimate dividend of holding talks with the PA.
Earlier this week Barak told Army Radio, "Good faith negotiations with the Palestinians can impede attempts to isolate Israel."
"It's important that it be clear that Israel is active in a real way," Barak said. "It can hinder the effectiveness of attempts to isolate us internationally."
When asked about alternatives to the so-called two-state solution Barak simply said they were "bad."
PA officials have consistently used preconditions known to be unacceptable to Israel as a means of avoiding peace talks.
Israel previously froze construction in Judea and Samaria for 10 months to meet PA demands for restarting talks only to have him add more preconditions - namely using the pre-1967 lines as a basis for peace talks and the release of all terrorists from Israel's prisons.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said he is willing to resume talks without preconditions from either side at any time.
Observers have questioned Ramallah's motives for holding talks noting the PLO, which plans to induct Hamas into its ranks, has indicated negotiations aren't on the agenda.
In recent weeks PLO officials have dismissed the bilateral track in favor of "a strategy based on continuous efforts along with the international community to secure full recognition and full United Nations membership, pursuing internal reconciliation, and keeping up the popular resistance."
They have also indicated they intend to "disengage" from Israel by severing bilateral ties, including economic and security agreements.