WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Israeli and U.S. positions on how to conduct negotiations with the Palestinians do not contradict one another, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said.
"I should tell you honestly that the president didn’t say that Israel should go back to the borders of ’67," Barak said in an interview broadcast Wednesday on Fox News Channel.
Barak was addressing reports of tensions between the Obama administration and the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Obama’s call in May for Israelis and Palestinians to relaunch talks based on the 1967 lines, with agreed-upon land swaps.
"He made it very clear that he thinks that Palestinians deserve a state of their own," Barak said of Obama. "We also believe in two states, Israel side by side — secure Israel side by side with a demilitarized Palestinian state that will basically have the same area that the West Bank and Gaza Strip had before ’67 with certain swaps, with understanding of the transformation on the ground."
Israel’s position does not "contradict what the president said," Barak said.
The Israeli defense minister said he "can hardly remember a better period of support, American support and cooperation and similar strategic understanding of events around us than what we have right now."
He suggested, however, that there were some differences over how close Iran was to a nuclear bomb.
"When it comes to the prognosis I believe we are still different, but we all believe that all options should be on the table and that we should give serious concern to what happens there," Barak said, using the euphemism for the threat of military action against Iran.
Barak said Iran’s closeness to achieving nuclear weaponry should not be anticipated in years but in "quarters."
"It’s natural that we are more kind of cautious or worried," he said of Israel’s posture toward Iran.
Israel was not "enthusiastic" about the prospect of an attack, Barak said, and still believed there was time for sanctions to be effective.