After meeting with Ban Ki-moon in US, defense minister says "We are still trying to find understanding within Quartet in order to restart talks," stresses direct negotiations are only way to reach permanent solution
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Friday revealed that Israel is still working on ways to resume peace talks with the Palestinians ahead of the United Nations General Assembly in September when the Palestinian Authority is expected to seek unilateral statehood, AFP reported late Friday night.
After meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who again called on Barak to return to the negotiating table and expressed concern over settlement construction, the defense minister was quoted as telling reporters on Friday, "We are still trying to find a formula that will enable an understanding between the members of the Quartet in a way that will enable a resumption of negotiations."
He added, "I cannot honestly predict that it will happen but we are still trying to do our best to enable it," stressing that direct talks are the only way to reach a permanent solution between both sides.
On Thursday, Barak told reporters, "I hope and believe there is a chance to reach an understanding on a formula agreed upon by the Americans and the Quartet that will convince the Palestinians not to make a unilateral declaration."
"If there will not be Palestinian willingness to answer this agreement, at least European nations will vote with Israel and empty of content, to a certain extent, the Palestinian achievement," Barak said. "If we do not reach an understanding on such a formula, some of the Europeans may vote with the Palestinians, which could begin a problematic process for Israel, even if it does not have immediate results."
During his visit to the US, Barak also discussed tensions in Israeli-Turkish relations with senior officials including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
After meeting with Panetta, Barak said that Israel was "willing to consider apologizing" for problems that occurred during last year's raid of the Turkish flotilla ship the Mavi Marmara.