Israel must tackle core Mideast issues to fix US rift

JERUSALEM - Israel must tackle the “core issues” of its conflict with the Palestinians in order to close a rift with top ally the United States, Defence Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday.

By (AFP)

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Published: Mon 19 Apr 2010, 7:50 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 5:35 AM

“The tension that is developing with the United States is not in Israel’s interest,” he told public radio.

“We must radically alter this situation through a political initiative dealing with the core issues at the heart of the conflict” with the Palestinians, he said.

The so-called core issues of the decades-old conflict include the future status of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, Jewish settlements and final borders.

Israel and the US administration have been locked in a bitter spat since last month’s announcement that 1,600 new settler homes would be built in Arab east Jerusalem, which coincided with a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden.

Barak stressed Israel must realise the international community is not willing to accept decades more of Israeli rule over the Palestinians.

He also dismissed concerns voiced by Jordan’s King Abdullah II over the risks of a new conflict in the region.

“I believe and think that there is no reason for war to break out,” Barak said. “Certainly we have no intention of starting something like that, and I hope there will be no deterioration from other directions.”

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Abdullah said last week that if there is no Middle East peace process by the summer “there’s a very good chance for conflict.”

Barak said he did not interpret Abdullah’s words as a threat.

“Obviously he doesn’t mean that Jordan will start it. It’s a very important peace-loving country,” he said.

Jordan became the second Arab state after Egypt to conclude a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.

The Middle East peace talks were halted in December 2008 when Israel launched its devastating Gaza offensive aimed at halting Palestinian rocket fire.

The Palestinians had reluctantly agreed to hold indirect talks with the Israelis last month, but that deal collapsed days later when the new east Jerusalem settlement plans were announced.

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