On the eve of Passover, Defense Minister Ehud Barak expressed concern over the “growing unrest in the West Bank.” The defense minister also claimed that Hezbollah is deterred from shooting at Israel because “they know that we will respond with great force.”
In the week before Passover, Defense Minister Ehud Barak declared 2012 "the year of the fight against the Iranian nuclear program.” In a meeting with military correspondents on Wednesday [April 4, 2012], Barak said that the economic and diplomatic sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic are having an effect on the regime, but it is doubtful whether they will lead to a real solution that will halt Iran’s nuclear program.
Barak was referring to a meeting between representatives of the six world powers and Iranian officials that is scheduled to take place in Turkey on April 13-14. He expressed concern that the Iranians will exploit the meeting to stall for time. “Israel is waiting to see the results of the negotiations of the superpowers with Iran before deciding on a course of action. It is not a matter of weeks, but also not of years.”
On the other hand, he also expressed satisfaction from knowing that Israel has succeeded during the last year to persuade the world that a nuclear Iran not only threatens Israel, but is the problem of the entire world. He made it clear that as far as Israel is concerned, time is running out and that the “theme” of the entire year of 2012 revolves around the struggle against the Iranian nuclear program.
Regarding Judea and Samaria, Barak said that he is not sure if the situation will remain calm over time and that it also depends on Israel and how much assistance it will give the Palestinian Authority. “There are signs of growing unrest among the Palestinians in the West Bank. It is in Israel’s interest to reach a settlement with the Palestinians. Israel is strategically interested in establishing two countries for two nations and a ground-up process of developing a Palestinian state.”
The defense minister also referred to Israel’s relations with the United States, relations that have known ups and downs during the last three years. According to Barak, the two nations share a close, intimate understanding, despite differences of opinion. Nevertheless, he emphasized that “we cannot entrust decisions that are critical to the security and future of the State of Israel in the hands of others, even friends like the Americans.”
Regarding the Iron Dome and Magic Wand systems (that intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells), Barak said that the United States will provide additional assistance to Israel for the development of the systems. He expressed the hope that future development of the Iron Dome in particular will significantly improve Israel’s protection against the missile attacks.
Regarding the northern border, Barak said that “Hezbollah is deterred because it knows that if the organization will launch missiles against the Israeli home front in the next conflict, then Israel will use great force against the Lebanese infrastructure.”