Tel Aviv, May 30 – Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned Wednesday that unless the Palestinians come back to the negotiating table Israel may have no choice but to take unilateral actions to protect its own interests.
With violence gaining strength in Syria and Iran repeatedly threating to destroy Israel, Israel lives in “a dangerous neighborhood,” Barak told an audience of diplomats and security experts at the annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has refused Israeli invitations to return to peace talks, and Barak said Israel might be forced to draw a new border itself and the new Palestinian state could have its “own dreams and ways of doing things.”
With the recent addition of the Kadima party to Israel’s government, he noted that Israel had a unique opportunity to exploit the parliamentary majority to advance the peace process. If there is no agreement on the horizon then Israel might have to consider an interim agreement or unilateral steps.
A former prime minister and commander of Israel’s armed forces, Barak noted that the Arab Spring had become “increasingly an Islamic winter.” He welcomed the move this week by six countries to expel Syrian diplomats, but said more is required. “Events in Syria demand that the world must act and not just talk,” he said.
He accused Iran and Hezbollah of being heavily involved in the carnage in Syria.
Barak was more optimistic speaking about Egypt, with which Israel signed a peace treaty. “I am not sorry about a single day of the last 35 years.”
While there are differences of opinion on some issues regarding Iran, the world is in agreement that Iran is trying to get nuclear weapons, he said. “A nuclear Iran threatens the entire world order.”