Time for Barak to Step Up and Push for Negotiations

Instead of readying the IDF for possible civil disobedience in the territories, Barak should trade in his amateur commentator's suit for that of a level-headed statesman.

The Palestinian leadership announced Sunday that it is standing firm in its decision to seek UN recognition in September of a Palestinian state within the June 4, 1967 borders. It was stressed, however, that the move was not intended to replace direct negotiations with Israel, based on the lines specified in recognized international initiatives and by U.S. President Barack Obama address of last month: the 1967 borders with the addition of mutually agreed-upon changes.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas recently made it clear that if the Israeli government followed the Palestinians into resuming negotiations based on the Obama formula, this could lead to the suspension of the pursuit of Palestinian statehood through the United Nations.

Despite the fact that every week more states are joining the long list of those that have announced their recognition of a Palestinian state, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to waver. He refuses to resume the negotiations on the basis of the internationally accepted principle that the talks must start with the Green Line, and is gambling on a U.S. veto in the UN.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has instructed Israel's foreign ambassadors to pick up a few votes against the expected move in the UN General Assembly. They are paying lip service to the welfare and safety of Israel's citizens by uttering hollow statements about the "delegitimization of Israel" in the world and are condemning the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement, rather than considering the possibility that it could lead to Hamas adopting the position of Abbas.

Instead of readying the Israel Defense Forces for possible civil disobedience and violent clashes in the territories, combined with Israel's international isolation - what he terms a "tsunami" of events - Defense Minister Ehud Barak should trade in his amateur commentator's suit for that of a level-headed statesman. As the leader of a party seen as holding the balance of power in the coalition's fulcrum it is his duty to assume the role of the responsible adult. The mantra "there is no partner," which he coined 11 years ago, after the failed Camp David summit, was a contributing factor in the second intifada. If the government maintains its intransigence, the third intifada will be named for the defense minister.