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Defense Minister Ehud Barak, in an interview with France 24 on Friday, said he believes there is probably more than a 50-50 chance that Israel and the Palestinians will return to the negotiating table before September. In the meantime, he said, Israel cannot stop construction in existing settlements. “There is no real way to announce an end of construction. There’s half a million people living there. They need a new kindergarten every week.”

European governments, Barak added, should tell the Palestinians: “Now you must come to grips with reality,” regarding their demand for a settlement freeze. “It’s about taking responsibility.”

“If we have a breakthrough, it will delineate a border. If there’s a building that [ends up] on the Palestinian side of a mutually agreed border, why should they care – they will get it.” Likewise, “If it ends up on the Israeli side of a mutually agreed upon border, why should they care. It’s on our side anyhow.” Settlements, he insisted, are “not the real issue when coming to negotiations.” 

 

(Jerusalem Post)

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