Ehud Barak
Photo: Ariel Yarozolimsky

Barak: Qom site can withstand regular shelling

Defense minister goes before Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, reviews passing year's security aspects. '2010 will be a year of threats and opportunities,' he says

Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Iran's nuclear facility in Qom "is likely to withstand regular shelling."


Barak, who attended the committee's Monday meeting, criticized the West for not denouncing the recent wave of clashes in Tehran: "The free world's reaction to what's happening there makes one uneasy.


"The regime is crushing citizens… all the protestors want is a normal life. I think the free world isn’t doing enough."


The defense minister reviewed the various security aspects of 2009 for the committee: "The past year has been one of the more quiet years, which can be attributed to the 2006 Lebanon (war) and Operation Cast Lead.


"Israel is stronger and much more deterring but our premise is that a confrontation is possible. Hezbollah has over 40,000 rockets. Hamas has gotten stronger after Operation Cast Lead. The Iranians have missiles that can reach Israel and a big terror incident – which can serve some of the terror groups' interests – can prompt a conflict with Hezbollah, Hamas or both."


As for the coming year, according to Barak "2010 will be a year of threats and opportunities. The world's undivided attention is no longer focused solely on us. The world is interested in the financial crisis and global terror, distribution of nuclear arms, radical Muslim terror and wayward nations. We are a natural focus, but we're not the only ones."


As for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Barak warned that "the alternative to peace talks is a dead end that will surely lead to violence and a surge in Hamas' power.


"We have an advantage that can help us carve an agreement that would lead to two-state solution. If we keep controlling the millions of Palestinians living between Jordan and the ocean we'll end up with a non-Jewish country or a non-democratic country, which will be an apartheid state – neither of which are what the Zionist vision is about. That is what the government is focusing on."


Turning his attention to the crisis between the defense establishment and the hesder yeshivas, Barak said that while the contribution of seminary school soldiers is undisputed, "The IDF and the State cannot abide demonstration within the ranks. We simply can't accept it and we're working to eradicate it.


"There have been several such incidents, where ephemeral groups supported soldiers who demonstrated. Troops were tried and the Attorney General's Office has ordered a criminal investigation against those groups."


As for the cabinet's decision to freeze settlement construction, Barak said that "109 warrants have been served… and we've formed an exceptions committee."


According to the defense minister, 700 housing units which were past the foundations stage and 84 housing units in initial construction stages, were not included in the freeze decision.


פרסום ראשון: 12.28.09, 12:56
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