Barak Ravid
May 30, 2012 - 12:00am

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Wednesday that Israel should consider unilateral moves if negations with the Palestinians fail to bear fruit.

"We are a coalition of 94 MKs, this is the time to lead a diplomatic process," Barak said Wednesday morning in a speech at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies. "But if it isn't possible to reach a permanent agreement with the Palestinians, we must consider an interim arrangement or even a unilateral move."

"We are on borrowed time. We will reach a wall, and we'll pay the price. People who are now in a coma will then ask how we didn't see [this coming]," he added.

Turning to Iran's nuclear program, Barak said, "It's impossible to sleep soundly while the Iranians are moving systematically toward a point where Israel won't be able to do anything… The Iranians are saying to themselves: 'We've waited 4,000 years for a nuclear capability, so we'll wait another few weeks, and we won't do anything that would provoke an Israeli or American operation'."

Barak rejected criticism that the Israeli leadership wanted war, but said Israeli could not close its eyes and wait for the Iranians to attain nuclear capability. "The difficulty of the international community in taking action, even in a clear case like Syria, must tell us something about other areas as well," he said.  

Barak disputed claims that he and Netanyahu were monopolizing decision-making on the Iranian issue. "There is no other issue in the State of Israel that has been discussed as much as the Iranian issue. There is no secret that two people decide on it in a dark room. That is ridiculous," he said.  

"The Iranian issue is discussed a lot, even talked about too much. Some of these statements were irresponsible and damaged the effort to halt Iran," said Barak, apparently alluding to statements by former Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin and former Mossad head Meir Dagan, both of whom have publicly opposed an Israeli strike on Iran.

Barak criticized Syrian leader Bashar Assad, calling the recent massacre in Houla "a new record in ruthless murder by the Assad regime. The world must act, and not just talk. These are crimes against humanity," adding that "a solution must be imposed on the Assad family."

Barak called Israel's peace agreement with Egypt "a national asset" and said Egypt and the international community had an interest in ensuring that Egypt honors its commitments in the future. He added that the results of the first round of presidential elections in Egypt had "even surprised the candidates."

"What initially seemed like an Arab Spring is turning out to be an Islamic winter. Hostility toward Israel is serving as a basis for garnering political favor," he said.  

On Turkey's decision to indict former the IDF chief of staff and officers he said, "We will stand as solid as a rock behind all the officers and soldiers who were involved in the issue of the Turkish flotilla."


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