Barak Explains Israel's Security Challenges

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak addressed the afternoon plenary session at AIPAC Policy Conference 2013 yesterday, thanking AIPAC members for their support of a strong U.S.-Israel alliance.

"The State of Israel simply would not be the strong island of stability it is," he said, "without one crucial constant: You! The United States of America. Its people. Its leadership. Its Congress. Its Jewish community."

The defense minister emphasized the challenges to Israel's security while living in the center of what he called an "unprecedented geopolitical earthquake" in the Middle East. "If a peace agreement with the Palestinians had been signed and sealed a long time ago, the Muslim Brotherhood would still have come to power in Egypt, Syria would still be mired in a bloody civil war and Iran would still be pursuing nuclear capabilities and a hegemonic role in the Gulf," he said.

Barak emphasized the difficulties of making peace with the Palestinians given their lack of desire for direct negotiations. "Prime Minister Netanyahu has taken courageous steps to renew the process, including an unprecedented settlement freeze," he said. "But still, from the Palestinian side, no proper response. They clearly bear most of the responsibility for past failures."

He concluded with hopeful message. "I was born 71 years ago, at the height of World War II; the Nazi crematoria in Europe were working day and night. And now, in 2013, I am ending my tenure as the minister of defense of a strong, independent Jewish state. Look at what we as a nation have achieved. Who would have believed it then?"