Barak: Israel Must Advance Peace or Face a 'Diplomatic Tsunami'

Defense Minister says Israel must counter building international pressure to recognize a Palestinian state within 1967 borders.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Israel could face a diplomatic tsunami if the standstill in Mideast peace talks continues, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Sunday, adding that a massive campaign to delegitimize Israel was at hand.

Direct peace talks that began in Washington in September of last year froze within weeks as a result of a disagreement between Israel and the Palestinians over a partial moratorium on construction in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Ehud Barak - March 13, 2011.Credit: Moti Milrod

At the time Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said peace was achievable in one year.

Speaking at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv on Sunday, Barak said that as that September deadline nears "we stand to face a diplomatic tsunami that the majority of the public is unaware of," Barak said, adding that there was "an international movement that may recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders."

"It's a mistake not to notice this tsunami. Israel's delegitimization is in sight, even if citizens don't see it. It is a very dangerous situation, one that requires action," the defense minister said, adding that "diplomatic initiative" would "reduce risks down the road."

Barak also leveled what could be construed as indirect criticism of the diplomatic policy of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying that "for the last two years we haven't tried to put the core issues on the [negotiations'] table."

"Israel must say it is willing to discuss security borders, refugees, and Jerusalem and then it could have a chance," the defense minister said, adding that in the event that this initiative would fail, then "the other side would take the blame."

The defense minister also called on opposition leader and Kadima chairperson Tzipi Livni to join the cabinet immediately in order to promote the peace process. According to Barak, "an election at this point is a bad option."

The defense minister said that "Kadima must join the government and this should be a first priority." Barak acknowledged that Kadima, the current opposition party, joining the government was no simple matter, with many of Livni's advisors urging her to take an outsider's look before deciding whether to join the government.

Barak stressed that worst case scenario, if no progress was made by the September deadline, Kadima could leave the government and call for reelections, however, he said that in the event that elections are called, it is the citizens that will pay the price.
Barak said that "elections are a time of collective stupidity. People stop doing what is good for the state and do whatever will get them more votes."

Barak added that "the public is waiting to move forward. I say this every time to Netanyahu: 'Don't consult with the ministers, lead.' We need to be decisive right now, both with those who stand with us as well as the opposition."

Barak criticized Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's interim plan, saying that "these are just pipe dreams." He added that "even if we are discussing an interim solution, it has to include a permanent future solution."

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