Israeli Minister Warns Barak to Stop Issuing Peace Deadlines
Prime Minister Ehud Barak should stop warning that time is running out and continue to pursue the peace process, even if Palestinian President Yasser Arafat is still not showing enough flexibility, Israel's justice minister Yossi Beilin was quoted by The Jerusalem Post newspaper as saying.
"If we do not succeed in reaching an agreement during the coming weeks, it doesn't mean that there will not be peace in the Middle East within a number of months. It doesn't mean that there is no peace partner, and it doesn't mean that it must bring an end to the peace process," Beilin said.
"The positions of the sides have never been so close. This is the moment in which leadership is put to the test, the moment for decisions and compromises... that could bridge the gaps and bring the two people the peace that they deserve," he said.
Beilin also reasserted his sharp objection to the proposal to form a national unity government with the Likud if peace negotiations fail, said the paper.
"We cannot give up the effort for peace in exchange for the deception of an artificial unity government, which would send a signal, more than anything else, that Israel is willing to forgo making peace," Beilin charged.
Beilin's remarks were the sharpest public criticism from a cabinet member of Barak's conduct of the peace talks, said the Jerusalem Post.
According to the paper, most other cabinet critics are on the other side of the political spectrum, raising doubts about potential concessions in Jerusalem.
Beilin supports transferring sovereignty over various Arab-populated areas of the city to the Palestinians. Ministers concerned about potential concessions in Jerusalem include Haim Ramon, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Rabbi Michael Melchior and Roni Milo, said the paper - Albawaba.com
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