Barak says Israel wants to move past flotilla, focus on peace 24Jun10 June 25, 2010

Palestine Note -  24 June 2010

Washington – In a phone call Wednesday to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israel wants to put aside tensions from the May 31 flotilla raid and focus on the peace process, AFP news agency reported.

Clinton said Barak is “old friend and someone who is certainly deeply involved in every important decision that affects Israel’s security and prospects for peace.” [Marcn - Flickr]

“We have a full commitment to work together with the secretary and try to find ways to move forward with the peace process in Israel and put aside all the difficulties and rows in the recent weeks,” the foreign minister said.

“[The goal is] to put them behind us in a proper manner in order to concentrate on how to change the direction of the events in the whole area.

“In this regard, no one can underestimate the effort, the commitment, the devotion and resources that the secretary puts into helping players in the region to find a way to move forward.”

The difficulties and rows in recent weeks refers to Israel’s raid of aid ships bound for Gaza in international waters. The act was heralded as piracy, and nine activists were killed by Israeli commandos, including one American citizen.

AFP reported:

Crowley said Barak “indicated to the secretary directly that Israel is developing a list” of goods that will be allowed into Gaza without actually giving her details.

“But he made very clear that it (Israel) anticipates a dramatic expansion in the flow of materials into Gaza,” Crowley told reporters after the Israeli-US meetings that included a 30-minute face-to-face Barak-Clinton encounter.

“He indicated that working with the UN and others, he anticipated there would be a significant increase in the projects that will go forward in Gaza. He did not lay out a specific list,” Crowley said.

Crowley also said Barak and Clinton discussed “some of the ways in which we can build momentum to move toward those direct negotiations.” The Palestinian Authority has stated in the past that as soon as progress can be made on the first proximity talk issues – security and borders – the PA is open to move to direct negotiations.

US Middle East envoy George Mitchell is due to return to the region next week to resume his shuttle diplomacy between Jerusalem and Ramallah.

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