Outgoing Barak: We can’t rely on friends’ help to defend Israel

The outgoing Defense Minister tells Knesset Foreign Defense Committee in his farewell speech, that no power in region has the ability to attack Israel with ‘air forces & armored divisions.’



Outgoing Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned lawmakers Monday that Israel could not rely even on its best friends when it came to its security, whatever pledges they made to defend Israel.
Outgoing MK Defense Minister Ehud Barak and MK Avigdor Liberman, March 11, 2013 Photo- Courtesy Ministry of Defense

Outgoing MK Defense Minister Ehud Barak and MK Avigdor Liberman, March 11, 2013 – Photo: Courtesy Ministry of Defense

“When the world, including our good friends, says ‘don’t worry, we’ll know to take care of even the worst case scenarios’, I say, don’t take that for granted”, Barak said in his parting address to the Knesset Foreign and Defense Committee.

“Smart people with whom we speak in the world believe the root of the whole problem in the Middle East is connected to our inability to reach a peace treaty with the Palestinians,” he added.Barak dismissed with this reasoning, saying that, “even if we had reached a peace treaty with the Palestinians, the Muslim Brotherhood would have taken over Egypt, Syria would have had a war, and Iran would have continued to strive for nuclear capabilities and hegemony in the Gulf.”

The defense minister and former army chief also told the panel that while Israel faces great security challenges, it is clearly the strongest power in the region.

“There are very complex challenges ahead of us. The Iran threat is not disappearing, Syria is crumbling before our eyes, and weapons transfers to Hezbollah can take place on any day.”

Despite these challenges Barak emphasized Israel’s relative strength in the region saying, “Israel is clearly the strongest country in the Middle East,” adding “we do not expect that there is a power in the region that can attack Israel with air forces and with armored divisions.”

Meanwhile, Committee chairman Avigdor Liberman emphasized the economic challenges of the Defense Ministry, saying that the incoming Defense Minister would have to deal with budget cuts to defense just like all other sectors in society. He said that the minister would also have to confront the issue of equality in service to the state with regard to the haredim and other minorities.

On Thursday, the Finance and Justice ministries circulated a proposed amendment to the state budget law to give the new government 120 days instead of just 45 to pass a budget. In that time, the new finance minister will, by law, have to propose a 2013 budget that cuts projected spending by about NIS 14 billion. On top of that, the incoming minister will have to include either further spending cuts or find several billion shekels of additional tax revenue to reduce the budget deficit to its 3 percent target.

Niv Ellis contributed to this report.
View original Jerusalem Post publication at: http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Article.aspx?id=306014