Defense Minister Ehud Barak commended organizers of the popular protests Tuesday, saying Israel was witnessing "an important and exciting social phenomenon being run in a responsible way".
Speaking on board the INS Lahav, on which he accompanied the outgoing Navy commander on his final sail, Barak added that despite his support for the protest, he would not agree to defense budget cuts.
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"We must remember that security-wise we don't live in Switzerland or Finland. We are in a burning field, with everything that is happening in the states that surround us – Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Bahrain – and I'm not even mentioning Iran," he explained.
Nonetheless, the defense minister encouraged social reform. "The protests include important demands for narrowing the gaps while introducing a new discourse. Leaders of the struggle are the main backbone of Israeli society," Barak said.
"They are the ones who, in times of emergency, will fold up the tents and enlist. We need a determined and immediate change in internal priorities."
Barak on visit to INS Lahav (Photo: Ariel Hermoni)
The defense minister added that he believes all sectors of society – including the haredim and the Arab-Israelis – "should be part of the solution and not the problem".
Barak also addressed the Palmer report on the 2010 flotilla raid. He said the report benefits Israel in determining that the naval blockade is legal and that the IDF raid was legal, but that "there are a number of problematic conclusions for us".
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