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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Barak: The Lebanese government is responsible

Defense Minister Ehud Barak gave a lengthy interview to the Washington Post on Friday (it appeared in Sunday's editions). Here are some highlights.
WP: You have said Israel will hold the government of Lebanon responsible for any Hezbollah provocation. What does that mean?

Barak: It means that unlike what happened in 2006 where under request from the administration, [Secretary of State] Condoleezza [Rice] called at the time [Prime Minister] Olmert and asked him not to touch the precious government of Siniora, and we didn't. I think that they're responsible for what happens and if it happens that Hezbollah will shoot into Tel Aviv, we will not run after each Hezbollah terrorist or launcher of some rocket in all Lebanon. We'll see the government of Lebanon responsible for what happens, and for what happens within its government, its body politic, and its arsenal of munitions. And we will see it as a legitimate to hit any target that belongs to the Lebanese state, not just to the Hezbollah. And somehow, we are not looking for it. I am not threatening. We are not interested in such a deterioration. But being surrounded by so many proxies that operate not just under immediate threat under them, but probably activated by other players for external reasons, we cannot accept this abnormality and I believe that no other sovereign would have accepted it.

WP: Is it a mistake, in your view, for the United States to support the Lebanese Armed Forces?

Barak: We are warning our American friends that the walls between the Lebanese armed forces and Hezbollah, it's quite porous. And whatever you give the Lebanese armed forces might end up in the hands of Hezbollah, be it technology or weapons or whatever. And we seeing that basically it's a failing kind of attempt of the international community to impose behavior upon the Lebanese and to the extent the Syrians and the Iranians. There is 1559, UN Security Council resolution, as well as 1701, and both are violated bluntly by the Hezbollah by the Syrian support to the Hezbollah and the Iranian support.


WP: What about the Palestinians?

Barak: We feel that we have to go from this somewhat artificial proximity talks into direct talks but of course once you are in direct talks we have to be able to put on the table the real issue and discuss all core issues.

The Israeli public elected a Knesset by which a government has been creating which is a right-wing government, (I represent the) center, left of center. I strongly believe that we have to establish or to strengthen our deep relationship with the United States within the context of a wider strategy of the free world in this region to face the real threats which are the radical terror, nuclear proliferation and rogue states, especially Iran and to be able to do it in a daring way. I believe, I believe -- it's not the formal position of the government -- that we should be ready to put on the table a plan which contains all the elements, namely realizing that there is a compelling imperative for us to have a two state solution be agreed upon and implemented before it's too late because between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean there live 11 million people if there is only one sovereign called Israel reigning over this region it will become inevitably even non-Jewish or non-democratic because if they cannot vote...if they can vote it's bi-national.

WP: Why are you sitting in a government with people who do not share your point of view on this?

Barak: I think we have to be able to delineate a border inside Eretz Yisroel in a way based on security and demographic considerations, where on inner side there is a solid Jewish majority for generations to come, on the other side demilitarized but viable independent Palestinian state economically, territorially politically, whatever. I think there is still an obstacle in Gaza, because they have about one half of their people and certain piece of ground and only access to the Mediterranean is there. It should be still solved within the Palestinian arena in a certain way. I believe that the Palestinian Authority should somehow resume its authority over Gaza.


WP: Why is what you say relevant when the other major players in Netanyahu's government oppose what you say on this?

Barak: I think first of all that people are changing. If I compare the situation to Camp David 10 years ago, it's exactly 10 years ago, I was prime minister, at the time people like Ehud Olmert, future prime minister then mayor of Jerusalem, or Tzippi Livni was totally against it. Now they support it. I can tell you there is a drift, a gradual drift toward understanding thatit's urgent to reach a two-state solution among a wide silent majority in Israel.

The fact that [the] right wing won the election doesn't mean that the people doesn't understand what I've just said. It just means that they prefer to give the keys or the steering wheel for the negotiations not to some extreme leftist who seems to some people here to be utopian and probably not always cautious enough about security arrangements. But basically once we are in negotiations, I believe that the majority, great majority of voters for Likud, for Israel Beitenu of [Avigdor] Lieberman, and clearly for Kadima believe as I am, probably not happy to realize it, but understand that's the only solution. So I think the real need is to bring both sides into the room and start negotiations,overcome the Palestinian hesitation and probably overcome our own kind of considerations and moving into it because by waiting another decade or another half a generation will not change it, just will deepen the abnormalities or complicate the solution.
There's much more. Read the whole thing.

On Iran and Hezbullah, Barak talks big but walks with a small stick. Who can forget him ten years ago saying over and over again "we will know how to respond," as dozens of Israelis were being murdered in terror attacks. He was gone in four months from the start of the terror.

And he's wrong about the 'peace process' and the 'Palestinians.' Most Israelis don't see a solution and don't support his giveaway. That's why Labor has 12 seats in the current Knesset and is likely to have even less in the next one.


At 2:52 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

There is no "peace process." The Palestinians don't want to negotiate with Israel and they don't want a two state solution on terms most Israeli Jews could live with. Ehud Barak doesn't appear to understand it and that is why the Israeli Left has all but disappeared as a force of consequence in Israel.


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