Barak presents plan for Israeli-Palestinian pact


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak presented a plan for an agreement with the Palestinians.

The points could shed some light on the plan that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will present when he speaks to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on May 24.

Israel will take "brave steps" and "make difficult decisions" for peace, Barak said Tuesday night at a reception for soldiers at the military’s headquarters in Tel Aviv.

Barak’s plan includes a permanent border that leaves settlement blocs and Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem as part of Israel and land swaps to make up for the territory lost; a permanent military presence along the Jordan River and a demilitarized Palestinian state; Palestinian refugees resettling in the Palestinian state; agreed-upon arrangements in Jerusalem; and "an end to the conflict and the mutual demands, in addition to recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, and the Palestinian state as the nation state of the Arab Palestinians."

Barak said these have been Israel’s demands for the last decade.

He also said that Israel would work to bring captive soldier Gilad Shalit home but "not at any price." He said the Quartet grouping of the United States, United Nations, Russia and the European Union should demand that Shalit be allowed to be seen by the International Red Cross.

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