Barak 58 reuters.
(photo credit: Reuters)
In light of the upheaval in the Middle East, Israel must maintain its position
as the strongest country in the region, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israel
Radio in an interview on Monday.
Speaking about the chances of peace in
the region, Barak said he believes there is an opportunity to hold talks with
Syrian President Bashar Assad.
League boss Moussa to run for Egypt president
editor: Israel-peace treaty will likely be revised
He added that a stronger push should be
made in talks with the Palestinians.
“The Syrians are signaling in more
ways than one that they want to reach an agreement,” Barak said without
“I think we need to examine every possibility. If the Syrian
president is serious, he will find a partner in us.”
future of Egypt, Barak said its army plays a central and important role in the
country. However, he had cautious words about Egypt’s future.
expects a Jeffersonian democracy, that’s not the situation,” he said in the
interview, warning that it is not a pluralistic society “even though the general
direction is toward progress.”
The true test for Egypt, Barak said, was
whether change could occur without regression to dictatorship. He said he had
spoken with the country’s current leader and defense minister, Field Marshal
Muhammad Hussein Tantawi, whom he has known for 15 years, and claimed Tantawi
harbored no ambitions to be Egypt’s next leader but was committed to leading the
country for the time being.
Barak also said the peace treaty with Israel,
like other international agreements Egypt is a party to, was safe.
hope and believe they [Egyptians] navigate correctly toward reform [and] a more
open society, while maintaining the delicate balance and preventing the country
from falling into the hands of Muslim movements,” Barak said.
strength of Egypt’s army and the country’s dependence on the world financially
give Egypt a chance to act in a balanced way.”
Addressing a statement by
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that Egypt could turn out to be like Iran, he
said he saw no signs there of a “Khomeini.’ “I see no Khomeini-type movement in
Egypt,” Barak added, referring to the 1979 Islamic revolution in
The defense minister also praised the chances of peace talks taking
place with the Syrians and said the peace process with the Palestinians should
Reuters contributed to this report.