Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak Israel news photo: Flash 90

The difference of opinion between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and United States President Barack Obama regarding the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority “is smaller than it looks,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Saturday, speaking to Channel 2.

“When we hear the details, it will turn out to have been less dramatic than it seems,” he said. “When the visit is over... the debate will look less extreme.”

While Obama called to base the borders of a PA state on the 1949 armistice line, he did not call to use the line itself as a border, Barak said, but rather, for negotiated borders – which could include the major Israeli settlement blocs within Israel.

That stance is not very different from the traditional American stance, Barak said. “In one way it sounds better to the Palestinian ear, and in another sense it sounds good to the Israeli ear – the president is erasing September,” he said, referring to the PA's threat to unilaterally declare a state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza in September.

United States officials appeared to agree, saying Friday that Obama realizes Israel will not go back to the armistice line. Obama brought up the line to serve as a new starting point for talks, not as a new expected outcome, they said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon focused on the positive in Obama's speech. “The president stood up for Israel's right to self-defense,” he said. In addition, he said, “It is clear from Obama's speech that no agreement will be forced upon Israel and that unilateral measures will fail.”

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