Addressing the recent round of violence in Beirut, which resulted in far-reaching constitutional changes, Barak said that "the past month's events in Lebanon constitute an achievement for Hizbullah."
As for the Iranian threat, he noted that "the nuclear arms race continues. Israel must act in order to prevent the threat from being realized. There is a lot to do, and the last things that can help are talks and incitement."
Referring to the negotiations with Damascus, Barak said that "talk talks are overtures. It is clear to all sides that the United States will eventually have to broker the process."
As for the situation in Gaza, the defense minister said that "more than 70 terrorists were killed over the past two months, and more than 300 in the past six months. Hamas is under a lot of pressure. We identify their distress."
He praised Egypt for its improving its efforts in terms of weapon smuggling. As for the situation in the West Bank, he said that "the main progress made in the negotiation is in regards to the economic issues. We have done almost everything in terms of the checkpoints and are looking into an additional ease of restrictions."
The committee members, however, found it difficult to ignore the criminal investigations against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the Labor chairman's threats to dissolve the government.
"You defined the prime minister as unable to do his job, and therefore the entire responsibility for the State's security is on your shoulders," Knesset Member Effie Eitam (National Union-National Religious Party) said.
"The situation in which a prime minister cannot function makes it impossible to deal with Israel's urgent security problems. Therefore, you must return your mandate and resign as soon as possible, in order to allow the public to elect a new leadership which can make the required decisions in the security field."
Barak at the meeting (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
The defense minister was also attacked in regards to a possible truce in Gaza.
"This would be interpreted as capitulation in the eyes of Hamas, the Arab states, the Israeli public and the entire world," said MK Isaac Ben-Israel (Kadima), who demanded an urgent cabinet discussion.
"I fear that Barak has little understanding for the State of Israel's democratic nature," he added.
As he left the meeting, Barak told reporters, "My duty as defense minister is to restore peace and quiet in the southern communities. We'll do it, we won't be deterred by any action and will do what it takes.
"However, before embarking on an operation, the State must utilize the possible ways in a composed manner, and enter the operation after weighing all the options and without pressure."