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Monday, 31 July, 2000, 21:17 GMT 22:17 UK
Barak calls for unity
Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak's plea for unity did not fall on deaf ears
Ahead of Monday's no-confidence vote, Ehud Barak defended the Israeli stance at Camp David and accused the opposition Likud party of wrecking plans for a national unity government.

Excerpts of his speech before the Knesset follow.

"I left some three weeks ago at the head of an Israeli delegation for Camp David on a mission for the people of Israel and hundreds of thousands of children.

No Israeli official binding position which includes giving up any territory or a division of Jerusalem was put on the table or put down in writing

Ehud Barak

For 15 days, and especially nights, we conducted ... difficult negotiations, which for the first time in the history of the conflict touched on all the basic issues on the agenda between us and the Palestinians.

We did not give up anything. We and the Americans raised many ideas, but we did not lose even for one moment eye contact with Israel's vital national interests.

There is no agreement. No Israeli official binding position which includes giving up any territory or a division of Jerusalem was put on the table or put down in writing.

However, the discussions advanced us although there is no certainty that in the end we will achieve an agreement.

To our regret, we did not find on the other side a readiness to make brave, difficult and painful decisions.

Peace or stalemate

We will continue to act and to find ways to make peace. We know that there is a price for peace, but we are not prepared for peace at any price.

It is imperative that we stand together secure in the knowledge that we are right

Ehud Barak

The people of Israel will know how to stand up for themselves ..., together, shoulder to shoulder, united and unified, whether in the long run an agreement is achieved at a painful price, but one based on the state of Israel's vital national interests.

Or God forbid, we will be forced to deal with difficult situations as a result of a stalemate.

It is imperative that we stand together secure in the knowledge that we are right, with international support for Israel and its demands, and recognition of our capital Jerusalem expanded and strong with a large and secure Jewish majority united under our sovereignty.

Likud accused

In recent days, the Likud leader rejected the contacts we tried to initiate to form a government of wide-ranging national responsibility headed by us.

Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon accused of not wanting to lead Israel forward

Today, here, in the vote that will take place in another few minutes ... we will know ... the answer to the question: Who does not want an emergency government of national responsibility that will lead the state of Israel forward.

The people who do not want it are Likud leader Ariel Sharon, MK Limor Livnat, the entire Likud, and its leaders.

Appeal for unity

Members of Knesset! I appeal to each and every one of you, I am asking you to rise above petty politics, above disputes and narrow considerations so as to unite around the government, leading Israel to peace and a safe future...

Let us channel our efforts to developing the tremendous talents of our young generation and strengthening Israel for generations to come...

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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See also:

31 Jul 00 | Middle East
Barak survives no-confidence vote
26 Jul 00 | Middle East
What did Camp David achieve?
26 Jul 00 | Media reports
Barak blames Arafat for talks failure
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