Israeli Justice Minister Yossi Beilin said Saturday he was opposed to the "time-out" in the Middle East peace process announced by Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
"It is a serious error for us to pause the peace process," Beilin told Israeli public radio, "We are harming ourselves."
"The peace process is not a basketball match and does not have time-outs," added the minister, one of the main architects of the 1993 Oslo peace accords with the Palestinians.
In a dramatic announcement Friday night, Barak said he would pull Israel out of the seven-year peace process if calm in the Palestinian territories was not restored by the time Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat finished consulting with his Arab colleagues in Cairo this weekend.
Barak's announcement had followed a day of bloodletting in the Palestinian territories in which nine people were killed and more than 200 injured, making a mockery of a peace accord Barak and Arafat concluded Tuesday in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
Beilin warned that Barak's move risked alienating the United States, the chief sponsor of the peace process, because it was "giving the impression that Israel has closed the door to peace."
The minister at the same time rejected Barak's proposal for a "unilateral separation" between Israel and the Palestinians.
"A unilateral separation is completely unrealistic, and is likely to revive tensions," Beilin said, pointing in particular to the links between the Israeli and Palestinian economies -- JERUSALEM (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )