Barak: Netanyahu to Back Palestinian State, Israel MP Says Otherwise
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Saturday said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was ready to declare his support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“I believe Netanyahu is ready for a process whose end is two states for two peoples,” Barak, who is also chairman of the center-left Labor party, told Channel 2.
Barak made the comments shortly before Netanyahu was to set off for a meeting with United States President Barack Obama in Washington, where he was likely to be asked to commit to the establishment of a Palestinian state. >>>
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will refuse on his trip to Washington to back the formation of a Palestinian state, an MP close to the premier said on Saturday, according to national radio.
Netanyahu “will not make a commitment to Washington on the creation of a Palestinian state which would undoubtedly become a ‘Hamastan’,” Ophir Akunis from Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party was quoted as saying, referring to the Islamic movement Hamas which controls the Gaza Strip and favours armed struggle against Israel.
The hawkish prime minister is scheduled to arrive in Washington on Sunday ahead of his maiden meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama since the two men took office this year.
Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul has urged Israel to resume peace talks with Syria as Tel Aviv says it will not return the occupied Golan Heights to Syria.
Speaking at a joint press conference with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad on Friday, Gul called on Israel to accept its responsibilities in forging peace, saying “Israel has to show clearly it is a partner.”
Gul made the remarks a week after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Israel would never withdraw from the Golan Heights and said, “Remaining on the Golan will ensure Israel has a strategic advantage in cases of military conflict with Syria”.
Israel seized the Golan Heights in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed the Syrian territory in 1981, a move never recognized by the international community.
Syria has demanded the return of all the Golan Heights, saying the strategic region will always belong to Syria and Israel’s departure from it is the only way to peace — a call which Israel has so far rejected.
Syria and Israel have held four rounds of Turkish-mediated indirect talks since last May, without significant progress. The indirect talks were formally suspended during the three-week Israeli offensive on the blockaded Gaza Strip.
The Turkish president arrived in Syria on Friday on a three- day visit for talks on bilateral ties and Middle East issues.
Norway’s largest labor union urged the Scandinavian country on Saturday to lead an international boycott of Israel if it did not reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions, whose members constitute more than a third of the country’s employees, said in a statement that both Israel and the Palestinians deserve to live in peace and security, and as long as this was not achieved, the Israeli government was to be held accountable.
The organization urged Israel to put an end to the “illegal occupation,” respect the 1967 borders, halt the expansion of the settlements and remove the security barrier. >>>
People of London have protested Israeli actions against the Palestinians, urging Tel Aviv to put an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip.
A pro-Palestinian group, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, organized a peaceful street demonstration in central London on Saturday, which attracted thousands of supporters.
The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli siege since June 2007 when the democratically-elected Palestinian government of Hamas took control and decided to defend what little land the Palestinians have left.
The protestors also condemned Israel’s violent occupation of the Palestinian territories.
The humanitarian crisis has prompted many leaders and governments around the world to call on Israel to lift the blockade. Tel Aviv, however, refuses to do so.
Earlier on Friday, Palestinians took part in a rally to mark the 61st anniversary of Nakba, which means Catastrophe in Arabic, in the northern Gaza Strip.
Palestinians mark Nakba as the day when Israel was created and millions of Palestinians were driven mostly by force to leave their homes and lands.
Egypt on Saturday opened its borders with the Gaza Strip to allow the departure of a number of Palestinians traveling to Egypt for medical treatment, among other travelers, Hamas authorities said. >>>