Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on When and Whether Israel Will Attack Iran

Opinions about events beyond our borders.
June 20 2012 7:24 PM

How Long Will Israel Wait?

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on when and whether Israel will attack Iran.

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In the middle of this, you have a new government here. What do you think will happen to the peace process?

Yes, we have a new government here—a very big one. I believe it is a great opportunity right now.

Recently you spoke about unilateral gestures on the part of Israel.

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I didn't say unilateral. I think we should use this opportunity to reactivate the peace process. If it is possible to have a breakthrough toward an agreement—it should be done. I don't want to relieve Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] or the international community from their responsibility for the deadlock we are in now. But I think there is an inherent Israeli interest in reviving the peace process with the Palestinians, and probably with the moderate parts of this region.

What do you mean by "moderate parts of the region"?

I mean both with the Palestinians and with every moderate country in the region from Morocco to the Gulf. We have an interest to find a way to talk with them about how to move [the peace process forward].

Will the talks resume?

I don't know because it takes two.

Is the prime minister interested? Are you?

I am interested, but the real news is not me. I was interested to start with. It's the entrance of [Shaul] Mofaz and Kadima [to the coalition headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu], which is the biggest party in the Knesset. We delayed the election by a year and a quarter, and that is enough time to try to leave an imprint. Mofaz is a strong proponent of the idea of resuming the peace process with the Palestinians. It takes two to tango. We cannot impose it upon Abu Mazen. I hope that they will understand the uniqueness of this opportunity, instead of going to [seek recognition from the U.N.] General Assembly. We better start to move forward. If something complete cannot be achieved, probably [there can be] interim agreements. If nothing works, even unilateral steps might be a possibility.

What did you mean by that?

I just meant we have to think about all options. We have such a wide government that the coalition has no dissonance when we decide to move forward with the peace process. Based on this opportunity, we should try to push it. Mofaz and myself and the prime minister are committed to try and do it. 

*Correction, June 20, 2012: Because of a copy-editing error, this article originally misidentified the Ayatollah Khamenei as the late Ayatollah Khomeini.

Lally Weymouth is a senior associate editor of the Washington Post.