Barak Defends Hagel in Farewell to Knesset

YERUSHALAYIM -
Outgoing Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak visits a Navy base as he makes a farewell tour this week. (FLASH90)
Outgoing Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak visits a Navy base as he makes a farewell tour this week. (FLASH90)

Outgoing Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak defended the new U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in a farewell address to the Knesset Foreign Defense Committee on Monday, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Commenting on Hagel’s turbulent confirmation hearings, Barak argued that there was “exaggerated criticism against him,” and praised his firm support for Israel’s security.

Barak was, however, critical of international efforts to stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon, pointing out that “painful and influential” economic sanctions would not cause it to surrender its nuclear program.

Barak said that there is an understanding with Washington that Israel is solely responsible for its security. He said that Israel could not rely even on its best friends when it came to its security, whatever pledges they made to defend Israel, saying “When the world, including our good friends, says ‘Don’t worry, we’ll know to take care of even the worst case scenarios,’ I say, don’t take that for granted.”

Regarding the currently popular attempt to link Iran with the Palestinian problem, Barak was dismissive. “Smart people with whom we speak in the world believe the root of the whole problem in the Middle East is connected to our inability to reach a peace treaty with the Palestinians.”

But, he said, “even if we had reached a peace treaty with the Palestinians, the Muslim Brotherhood would have taken over Egypt, Syria would have had a war, and Iran would have continued to strive for nuclear capabilities and hegemony in the Gulf.”