Netanyahu's guideline "unique opportunity" for peace process: Barak
The visiting Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Sunday that the fresh guideline made by his Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a "unique opportunity" for the long-stalled Mideast peace process, Xinhua reported.
"It is really a unique opportunity for the peace process because the common interest is so apparent regarding the struggle against hegemonic Iran, against radical terrorism, against proliferation of nuclear weapons," he said at a press conference after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
On June 14, Netanyahu made a keynote speech at Bar Ilan University, in which he urged a demilitarized Palestinian state to recognize Israel as a Jewish country.
The new guideline, which came in response to U.S. President Barack Obama's endorsement to the two-state solution, was snubbed by Palestinians and other Arab nations that fret about Netanyahu's refusal of sharing Jerusalem and refugees' rights of return.
Describing the overture as "a major step forward," the Israeli defense chief said Netanyahu has "made it clear that...the goal of the whole process is to have a situation where the two peoples... are living side by side in two states."
Netanyahu's proposal, however, flawed it might be, has been hailed by the White House as "an important step forward."
Earlier, Mubarak said in an article on The Wall Street Journal published Friday that "a historic settlement is within reach," and "Egypt stands ready to seize that moment," calling for a solid Arab stance and a greater involvement of Obama administration in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Barak, who spent just a few hours in Cairo, also called for " intense efforts" in the coming weeks to pave the way for the peace talks.
But he refused to answer a question about the developments of the talks for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was abducted by Hamas-led militants in a cross-border raid in 2006.
Barak, who was the first high-ranking Israeli official to visit Cairo after the Gaza war, also met Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and his counterpart Hussein Tantawi earlier in the day.