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Israel's Barak supports comprehensive peace initiative including Syria
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17:03, November 13, 2007

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Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak supports a comprehensive peace initiative that would include promoting a peace deal with Syria, local Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Tuesday.

Barak believes that this initiative would determine Israel's needs and demands as well as what it would need to give in return in its talks with the Palestinians, after the U.S.-sponsored Mideast peace conference, said the popular newspaper.

The much-touted peace conference is expected to be held in Annapolis in the U.S. later this month.

According to the report, Barak has told his associates in recent days that only such an initiative could stop other peace plans, like the Arab Peace Initiative, from being forced on Israel.

"We must conduct extensive work which would determine all of Israel's crucial interests in the region. We must examine this opposite Syria, opposite the Palestinians, opposite the Jordanians and opposite any other Arab country," he said.

"Israel must push for its own initiative and not be dragged by initiatives from the other side," the defense minister was quoted as saying.

In Barak's view, Israel's crucial interests would be harmed in a situation where Israel would have to respond to initiatives such as the Arab Peace Initiative, said the daily.

The Arab Peace Initiative, which was first approved in 2002 and reactivated during the 19th Arab summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in March this year, offers to extend recognition to Israel by all Arab countries provided that it withdraws from all Arab territories it occupied in the 1967 war, including East Jerusalem and Syria's Golan Heights.

Barak also said that the issue of talks with the Syrians should be reexamined, and a change of policy may lead to positive results." Such a change may lead to good and unexpected results for Israel," he said.

Source: Xinhua

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