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Impasse in peace talks poses challenges at home for Barak
From Correspondent Jerrold Kessel
JERUSALEM (CNN)-- The failure of the U.S.-Syrian summit to break the deadlock in peace talks between Israel and Syria has left Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak searching for a new direction for his administration, say analysts.
"The disappearance of the chances of a peace with Syria has left Barak more or less without an agenda and he's now scrambling to find an alternative agenda," said political analyst Chemi Shalev. "In a way, he's become a prime minister without a cause."
Barak had banked on a peace deal with Syria to pave the way for a broad settlement with the Palestinians.
But with the focus shifting away from the international stage, Barak finds public attention turning to domestic and economic issues.
Unemployment in Israel is more than 10 percent and the country has seen several protests as factories close. A doctors' strike is the most prominent of a series of walkouts by civil servants.
Barak also faces a simmering crisis in his own center-left-religious coalition.
But the prime minister dismisses criticism that he has neglected the economy and social issues.
"There's nothing new in the fact that we mean to raise both banners simultaneously, the security-political flag and the socioeconomic flag," Barak said.
A former soldier, Barak is considered strong in the areas of strategic planning, politics and security. But colleagues say in the new political climate he will have to make adjustments.
"The only agenda where we do not need partners is the domestic agenda. That's wholly dependent on us," said Shlomo Ben-Ami, the minister of public security.
"It is a test of leadership and I trust that Barak will face it, and we will be with him to help as much as we possibly can to face the challenge," Ben-Ami added.
Window still open for peace with Syria, Barak says
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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