Barak: Time to pursue regional peace

Israel’s leaders may be in favor of pursuing a regional peace plan, Ehud Barak said.

The Israeli defense minister and Labor Party chairman pointed out on Army Radio Sunday that currently stalled negotiations with the Palestinians and Syria make the Saudi peace plan being pressed by moderate Arab groups in several Middle Eastern countries more attractive.

Barak said he has spoken to Prime Minister-designate Tzipi Livni, with whom he recently agreed to join a new government coalition as her second-in-command, about pursuing the initiative and that President Shimon Peres is also on board.

The Saudi peace plan, which offers pan-Arab recognition of Israel in exchange for Israel’s withdrawal from Arab territory captured in 1967, was proposed in 2002 and re-endorsed last March.

Peres proposed a one-track peace path last month in a speech at the United Nations.

Israeli leaders object to wording in the Saudi plan that would allow a large-scale right of return for Palestinians, which is a concern of the Jewish state.  

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