Barak: Israel and U.S. Must Put Differences Aside and Move Forward

Defense Minister underscores importance Israel's 'special relationship' with U.S., says Israel needs to find a way to say 'yes, but' to its allies as Palestinians push for statehood.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Monday that Israel must find a way to stop the "diplomatic tsunami" awaiting it when Palestinians move to declare statehood this September without compromising its security considerations.

Barak also said that the fact that U.S. President Barack Obama was "well-received" by the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC on Sunday gave both Israel and the U.S. a starting off-point with which to "put behind us the majority of our differences, to solve those that remain and to move forward".

Barak - AP - March 24, 2011

"When push comes to shove, as both the prime minister and the first defense minister David Ben Gurion have said, Israel stands on two feet: on its strength and its righteousness. The strength is that of the Israel Defense Forces and its strategic capabilities, while our righteousness comes from our international legitimacy, our internal unity, and at the center of that, our special relationship with the United States," he added.

"It is very important, with the uncertainty of the coming months, that we find a way to say 'yes, but'," said Barak. "Not to cover up our hesitations, not to cover up the importance with which we give our security, but to find a way forward with the Americans, the Europeans, with what we can, to block the diplomatic tsunami of September."

Barak's remarks came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bluntly rejected Obama's vision for the borders of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in what appeared to be the opening of a deep divide between the United States and Israel.
In an unusually sharp rebuke to Israel's closest ally, Netanyahu told Obama his endorsement of the Palestinian demand to go back to Israel's 1967 boundaries - meaning big land concessions - would leave Israel "indefensible."

He later said that claims of his disagreement with Obama were "blown out of proportion."