Israel Political Brief March 28, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu apologizes for leaving Ehud Barak off all Obama guest lists

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Netanyahu apologizes for leaving Ehud Barak off all Obama guest lists

Source: Haaretz, 3-28-13

As the defense minister, until just 24 hours before Obama landed at Ben-Gurion Airport, Barak was responsible for the two countries’ strategic relations and served as Netanyahu’s envoy to Washington.

The 48 hours of U.S. President Barack Obama visit here last week were crammed with gala events in which numerous Israelis from all walks of life participated. The standouts were the well-attended dinner at the official residence of President Shimon Peres….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief March 19, 2013: Israel’s Defense Ministry officially passes from Ehud Barak to Moshe Ya’alon

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Israel’s Defense Ministry officially passes from Ehud Barak to Moshe Ya’alon

Source: Haaretz, 3-19-13

Israel’s Defense Ministry officially passes from Ehud Barak to Moshe Ya’alon. Moshe Ya’alon – a former IDF chief, strategic affairs minister, and vice premier – replaced Ehud Barak after six years on the job….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief March 15, 2013: Ehud Barak bids the Defense Ministry goodbye

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Ehud Barak bids the Defense Ministry goodbye

Source: Haaretz, 3-15-13

Reflections on the almost six years Ehud Barak spent in his most recent spin in the Defense Ministry, during which he chalked up no few successes even as his electoral clout plummeted….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief March 5, 2013: Chuck Hagel to Ehud Barak: I hope to visit Israel soon

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Hagel to Barak: I hope to visit Israel soon

Source: Jerusalem Post, 3-5-13

Hagel is working to ensure there is no interruption of funding for Iron Dome, Arrow, David’s Sling rocket, says US official. Defense Minister Barak embraces US counterpart Hagel….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief March 3, 2013: Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s Speech at AIPAC Policy Conference 2013

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Full text of Ehud Barak’s 2013 AIPAC speech

Source: Times of Israel, 3-3-13

‘We live in a tough neighborhood, where there is no mercy for the weak. And no second chance for those who cannot defend themselves’

Full text of Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s speech to AIPAC, March 3.

Thank you for such a warm welcome. What an indescribable feeling to be surrounded by so many true friends in the capital of the world’s greatest democracy. Members of the Administration, Members of Congress, distinguished ambassadors, especially our ambassador Michael Oren…. Michael, Rosey, Bob, David, Howard and Richard, AIPAC members… older and young…

Good evening to you all.

It is your toil and your graft – your unwavering support – that keep us safe. I have six humble words for all of you: Thank you, thank you, thank you. I would like to express my personal appreciation to President Obama and Secretary Panetta for their resolute backing of Israel. History will surely record your immeasurable contribution to the strength of Israel, and the maintenance of the truly special relationship between our peoples. On behalf of the people of Israel, I wish Secretary Hagel all the best in his new role. As Secretary of Defense he will, no doubt, serve his country with the same pride and honor with which he served, both on the battlefield and in Congress. It is great to see so many young activists here. Thank you for your energetic commitment to Israel! A commitment which is so lucidly dictated by the head… yet so deeply underpinned by the heart… Keep it up – you are the future!

It is thanks to the rock solid US-Israel relationship, alongside the devotion of the young men and women of the IDF, that our capacity to defend ourselves, has been guaranteed for years to come! With US support, combined with the ingenuity of our scientists; Israel finds itself at the cutting edge of missile defense technology. The ‘Iron Dome’ recently intercepted over 400 incoming terrorist rockets. Practically – this is like hitting a bullet… with a bullet! Just last week, we – the US and Israel – conducted a successful exo-atmospheric test of the Arrow 3 interceptor. The State of Israel simply would not be the strong island of stability it is, without one crucial constant. You! The United States of America. Its people. Its leadership. Its Congress. Its Jewish community.

It is no secret, and I’ll repeat it again, that we live in a tough neighborhood, where there is no mercy for the weak. And no second chance for those who cannot defend themselves. Israel is the strongest country in the region and the only genuinely open democracy. An unprecedented geopolitical earthquake in the last three years has shattered the generations’ old regional order. There are two clear lessons and one insight which I have drawn from this period: # 1: Be modest with predictions……. especially about the future! Take Egypt as an example; Mubarak was unable to predict it… who did? Who thinks he could? #2: When friends tell me: Don’t worry… If worse comes to worst … the world will step forward and act! My answer is: Do not take this for granted.

Look at Syria – you don’t need classified intelligence; it’s on your screens. Assad’s jet fighters, tanks and artillery are slaughtering his own citizens. Over 70,000 Syrians killed. Yet still… there is no sense of direction and no political will to act. There is an extremely relevant lesson here… especially for all of us in Israel. And an insight…

Many believe that the root cause for all the problems in the Middle East… is our inability to solve the conflict with the Palestinians. Well, I say… That’s not true! Recent developments in the Middle East have been far beyond our control… and independent of our deeds. Even if a peace agreement with the Palestinians had been signed and sealed a long time ago: The Muslim Brotherhood would still have come to power in Egypt. Syria would still be mired in a bloody civil war. And Iran would still be pursuing nuclear capabilities and a hegemonic role in the Gulf.

And ladies and gentlemen, it is Iran’s pursuit of nuclear capabilities which is the greatest challenge facing Israel, the region and the world today… A nuclear Iran spells the end of any conceivable non-proliferation regime. Saudi Arabia, Turkey and later Egypt will follow suit. In the future, even terrorist groups may try. Diplomatic efforts continue. Sanctions are unprecedented and hurting, but frankly – while exhausting all diplomatic means is understandable – I do not believe it will lead to a “moment of truth”, where the Ayatollahs will give up their nuclear aspirations. Therefore, all options must remain on the table.

We have stated this time and again. And we expect all those who say it… to mean it… Ladies and gentlemen… We mean it. And let me repeat it: we… mean it.

A nuclear Iran is the most imminent and acute danger to the stability of the entire region. But it is not the only one: Radical Islamist terror is spreading rapidly. And the accumulation of missiles and rockets will necessitate regional missile defense. So what is to be done? It is an interregnum right now in Israel, and the new Netanyahu government will have to shape its approach.

But allow me, just before I leave my post, to share with you my positions: The Middle East is a Gestalt – everything depends on everything else. Facing this array of threats, we have to: Firstly, start building a ‘Regional Security Framework’… This should be built around the common challenges of radical Islamist terror, border security, missile defense… and of course, Iran. And being led by the United States, it could provide a variety of synergies for all its regional participants.

Secondly, we need a daring peace initiative vis-à-vis the Palestinians. A two-state solution is the only viable long-term solution. It is a compelling imperative for us, in order to secure our identity and our future as a Jewish and democratic state; it’s not a favor for the Palestinians… Believe me, I tried hard as Prime Minister, together with President Clinton. So I know, from personal experience, that the Palestinians are not easy partners for peace. Prime Minister Netanyahu has taken courageous steps, to renew the process including an unprecedented settlement freeze. But still – from the Palestinian side… no proper response. They clearly bear most of the responsibility for past failures. And I know, a fully fledged agreement is probably not feasible today, But if this is the case – and only a sincere effort can determine this – we have to try and achieve a reasonable, fair, interim agreement. I strongly believe this is possible, while guaranteeing all our security and vital interests.

But if even an interim agreement is unobtainable, then we should consider unilateral steps, in order to place a wedge on this extremely dangerous slippery slope towards a binational state. It involves demarcating a line within the land of Israel… Within which we will have the settlement blocs and a solid Jewish majority for generations to come. As well as setting security arrangements, and a solid Israeli, long-term military presence along the River Jordan. Rest assured… our security should not – and will not – be compromised under any of these alternatives. Tough decisions must be taken; but it is possible. And as our sages teach us: “If not now… when?”

I strongly believe that this intertwined strategic triangle: First, The Regional Security Framework. Second, a reinvigorated political process with the Palestinians… And third: tackling Iran. This triangle, is the most effective approach to deal with the challenges on our horizon.

Israel, has also been experiencing its own tremors of change. In the summer of 2011, the people of Israel took to the streets… demanding a more equal allocation of the burden. Just last month, 53 new, fresh members of the Knesset were sworn in, about half the serving members of Knesset … (Present company included!)… were out. That is what I call democracy in action. A democracy I am proud of. A democracy you can be proud of. I am confident that Prime Minister Netanyahu will lead his new government with the same dedication and responsibility which he led the last.

Ladies and gentlemen, I was born 71 years ago, at the height of World War II; the Nazi crematoria in Europe were working day and night. And now… in 2013, I am ending my tenure as the Minister of Defense of a strong, independent Jewish state. Look at what we – as a nation – have achieved… Who would have believed it then? Today we have an agile and adaptive high-tech and export oriented economy. A start-up culture flourishes on an eruption of talent and an underlying entrepreneurial spirit.

I am optimistic, and my vision for Israel is clear: A strong, self-confident, thriving Jewish, democratic state, living in peace and security with its neighbors. An exemplary state and world leader in science, technology, education and culture. A country in which our children will want to live, and your children will be proud of.

Ladies and gentlemen, We are at a decisive juncture in our history… As President Kennedy noted during the Cuban Missile Crisis: “The path we have chosen for the present is full of hazards, as all paths are. But it is the one most consistent with our character and courage as a nation…” I believe we possess the character and courage as a nation to make those tough decisions for the future, peace and security of the State of Israel. Please allow me to end with the millennia old blessing: May the Lord bestow his people with courage; may the Lord bless his people with peace. Thank you…

Israel Political Brief February 11, 2013: Defense Minister Ehud Barak Travels to Washington for consultations

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Ehud Barak coming to Washington for consultations

Source: JTA, 2-11-13

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is traveling to Washington to meet with top defense officials.

Barak, who announced in November that he was retiring from politics and did not run in the January elections, “will meet with senior administration officials and the heads of the intelligence and defense establishments,” according to an announcement Monday by Israel’s government press office….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief February 2, 2013: Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak says Syria strike proof that Israel ‘means it’

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Barak says Syria strike proof that Israel ‘means it’

Source: JTA, 2-3-13

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the strike on a military site in Syria is “proof that when we say something, we mean it.”…READ MORE

Israel Political Brief January 25, 2013: Ehud Barak: US Could Strike Iran

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Barak: U.S. Could Strike Iran

If sanctions fail to halt Tehran’s nuclear weapons development, the Pentagon has plans for a ‘surgical operation’ to end the threat, the Israeli defense minister told The Daily Beast in a wide-ranging interview at Davos….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief November 26, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Responds to Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s Decision to Retire

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PM Netanyahu Responds to DM Barak’s Decision to Retire

Source: PMO, 11-26-12

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu respects Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s decision, thanks him for his cooperation in the Government and very much appreciates his contribution – over many years – to the security of the state….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief November 26, 2012: Defense Minister Ehud Barak says he’s quitting politics

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Ehud Barak says he’s quitting politics

Source: JTA, 11-26-12

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he is leaving politics after more than half a century and will not run in the upcoming elections….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief November 21, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Statement at Press Conference with Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense – Operation Pillar of Defense – Cease-Fire

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PM Netanyahu’s Statement at November 21 Press Conference with Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense  – Operation Pillar of Defense – Cease-Fire

Source: PMO, 11-21-12

Photo by GPO

“Citizens of Israel,

Eight days ago, Israel embarked on operation Pillar of Defense. The Government decided to launch the operation after the frequency of the terror attacks originating from Gaza increased over the last few months. I announced that we would respond forcibly to these attacks when we see fit. I said that we would exact a heavy price from the terror organizations.

The terror organizations assumed that we would avoid offensive action against them; they were wrong. We hit their senior commanders, we destroyed thousands of rockets which were aimed towards the South and most of those aimed towards central Israel, and we crushed Hamas’ control facilities. I must say that we did this with the strong support of the leading authorities of the international community.

In particular, I wish to thank President Obama for his resolute support for Israel’s actions, for this operation and for Israel’s right to defend itself. I also thank him for supporting the Iron Dome systems. I thank Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and express my gratitude to the Egyptians for their efforts in achieving this cease-fire.

In a phone call I had this evening with President Obama, I agreed with him that we should give the cease-fire a chance in order to enable a lull in the situation and allow for the citizens of Israel to return to routine. However, Israel obviously cannot sit idly while our enemy reinforces itself with weapons of terror. Therefore we decided, President Obama and myself, that the United States and Israel would work together to fight the smuggling of weapons to the terror organizations – weapons, virtually all of which come from Iran.

From the day the State of Israel was established, it has had to deal with complex challenges in the Middle East, and we can all see that these challenges have become even more complex in the last few years. Under these conditions we are required to navigate this ship, the State of Israel, wisely and responsibly while taking into account all considerations – military and political alike. This is what a responsible government does, and it is what we did here: we made use of our military might while applying political considerations.

Now, I realize that there are citizens who expect a harsher military action and we may very well need to do that. But at present, the right thing for the State of Israel is to exhaust this possibility of reaching a long-term cease-fire. As Prime Minister, I have the responsibility, and it is the highest responsibility, to make the right steps to ensure our security. That is what I have done and it is what I will continue to do.

During the last week, Israel has lost several victims. On behalf of the entire population, I send condolences to the families, and wish the wounded a speedy recovery.

I would like to thank my colleagues, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman. We worked together as a team, in full agreement. I also thank the Nine-Member Ministerial Forum, the Cabinet and the Government, for working – each in its field of responsibility – for the citizens of Israel. I also appreciate the factions of the Opposition and the factions in Knesset for standing with us and proclaiming their support.

I thank the Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz, the Chief of Shin Bet, Yoram Cohen, the Director of the Mossad, Tamir Pardo, and all of their people for their exceptional efforts in reaching our accomplishments in Pillar of Defense. On behalf of the people of Israel, I thank the IDF commanders and soldiers, the pilots, the Iron Dome operators and developers, the members of the intelligence services, all the members of the security services and to the reservists, who left their families and immediately signed up for duty.

I appreciate the mayors and heads of regional councils for displaying leadership and level-headedness at the Home Front, and above all – I salute you, the citizens of Israel. We have a strong army; we have a strong people. I am proud to by your Prime Minister

Israel Political Brief November 15, 2012: Israel moves troops toward Gaza

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Israel moves troops toward Gaza

Source: AP, 11-15-12

Palestinian militants barraged Israel with more than 200 rockets on Thursday, killing three people as Israel pressed a punishing campaign of airstrikes on militant targets across the Gaza Strip. Three rockets targeted the densely populated Tel Aviv area, setting off air raid sirens in brazen attacks that threatened to trigger an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza.

Late in the day, Israel signaled a ground operation may be imminent as forces moved toward the border area with Gaza. At least 12 trucks were seen transporting tanks and armored personnel carriers, and a number of buses carrying soldiers arrived. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he had authorized the army to call-up additional reservists for possible action. The army said it was prepared to draft up to 30,000 additional troops.

‘‘I ordered the military today to widen the draft of reserve soldiers in order to be able to be ready for any development,’’ Barak said….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief November 15, 2012: UN chief to visit Israel as part of truce efforts

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UN chief to visit Israel as part of truce efforts

Source: YNet News, 11-15-12 

Ban to meet Netanyahu, Barak and Abbas in hopes of restoring ceasefire between Israel, Hamas. France says President Hollande in talks with Israeli PM, other world leaders to avert escalation of violence. Lieberman to counterparts: We won’t agree to fragile truce.

Efforts to end Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza are underway: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to visit the region on Tuesday in order to advance a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

Ban is expected to visit Jerusalem and Ramallah, but he will apparently not visit Gaza. The UN chief is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The visit was coordinated following a closed-door meeting of the Security Council following the escalation in Gaza. …READ MORE

Israel Political Brief November 15, 2012: Israel moves troops toward Gaza; Ehud Barak wants 30000 reservists

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Israel moves troops toward Gaza; Barak wants 30000 reservists

At least a dozen trucks carrying tanks, armored vehicles were seen late Thursday moving toward border area, while buses ferried soldiers; Barak asks government to okay reserves call-up ahead of possible ground invasion….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief October 7, 2012: Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak after clear-the-air meeting with PM Benjamin Netanyahu: We ‘see eye-to-eye’

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Barak after clear-the-air meeting with Bibi: We ‘see eye-to-eye’

Source: JTA, 10-7-12

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “see eye-to-eye” on the Iran threat and U.S.-Israel ties….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief September 24, 2012: Defense Minister Ehud Barak proposes unilateral withdrawal from outlying settlements, outposts

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Barak proposes unilateral withdrawal from outlying settlements, outposts

Source: JTA 9-24-12

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak proposed in a newspaper interview that Israel unilaterally withdraw from outlying West Bank settlements and outposts….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief August 6, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu and DM Ehud Barak Tour Area near Kerem Shalom in which a Major Terrorist Attack was Foiled

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PM Netanyahu and DM Barak Tour Area near Kerem Shalom in which a Major Terrorist Attack was Foiled

Source: PMO, 8-6-12

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, today toured the area in which a major terrorist attack was foiled last night. They were briefed by GOC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Tal Russo and ISA Director Yoram Cohen.

Prime Minister Netanyahu met with commanders and soldiers who were involved in the operation and, next to the APC that was hit, said: “I would like to praise the IDF and ISA for foiling a very major terrorist attack. You deployed and acted properly. I would also like to express regret over the killing of the Egyptian soldiers. I think that it is clear that Israel and Egypt have a common interest in maintaining a quiet border. However, as has been made clear on numerous occasions, when it comes to the security of the citizens of Israel, the State of Israel must and can rely only on itself. Nobody can fulfill this role other than the IDF and the security services of the State of Israel and this is how we will continue to act.”

Israel Political Brief August 6, 2012: Ehud Barak Calls Sinai Attack, Border Inflitration a ‘Wake-up call’ for Egypt

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Barak calls Sinai attack, border inflitration a ‘wake-up call’ for Egypt

Source: JTA, 8-6-12

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called a terrorist attack in the Sinai that killed at least 15 Egyptian soldiers a “wake-up call” for Egypt….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief August 1, 2012: Ehud Barak Orders Israeli Defense Forces to Draft Haredi Orthodox Men

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Barak orders haredi Orthodox conscription

Source: JTA, 8-1-12

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the Israeli Defense Forces to draft haredi Orthodox men as it does other Jewish Israelis….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief July 26, 2012: Ehud Barak: Preemptive Strike Would be Less Costly Than Nuclear Iran

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Barak: Strike would be less costly than nuclear Iran

Source: JTA, 7-26-12

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that a preemptive military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be less costly for Israel than Iran’s possession of a nuclear weapon….READ MORE

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