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Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.
The squirrel in question (who some think is also a nut) is Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
The Palestinians did not have a problem with Israel continuing settlement construction during past peace talks, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said following a meeting with United Nations Secretary General Ban ki-Moon on Thursday, saying that it was mutual mistrust, not settlement building, which was hindering the current round of direct negotiations.
Speaking to reporters following his meeting with the UN chief in New York on Thursday, Barak said that, contrary to recent Palestinian claims, settlement building wasn’t the real bone of contention between Israel and the PA.
“We aren’t building any new settlements,” Barak said, indicating that Israel was “committed to the Road Map for Peace and to the two-state solution.”
Referring to the possibility that Israel was making it difficult for PA delegates to return to the negotiations table by continuing West Bank building, the defense minster said that claim was an exaggeration, adding that “43 years of construction hardly covers two percent of the West Bank.”
“[Former Prime Minster Ehud] Olmert’s government was engaged in profound talks with the Palestinians and [settlement] building then was double what it is today and that didn’t seem to be an obstacle,” Barak said, adding that when he was premier during negotiations with former PA chief Yasser Arafat building was “four times what it is today.”