'US F-35 package more important than Likud infighting'

Barak supports PM on renewal of settlement freeze, says "either we reach an understanding with the US, or the Arabs will before us."

November 15, 2010 11:14
1 minute read.
In this July 7, 2006 file photo, the Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter is shown after it was unve

f-35 fighter jet. (photo credit: Associated Press)

Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday morning defended Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's position regarding the renewal of the settlement construction freeze in exchange for an American security package.

In an interview on Army Radio, Barak said that the American benefits "are more important than the conflict going on between [Netanyahu] and Yariv Levin, the deal changes Israel's stance for the future generation."

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Barak explained that the US has promised to fund the delivery of 20 F-35 advanced stealth fighter jets to Israel which will not be included in the annual aid given to Israel from the US. According to the defense minister, the White House has expressed willingness to take into consideration all the security issues facing Israel, "from Iran to Syria and Hizbullah," hinting at the capabilities of the modern aircraft.

Barak added that the view in Israel which see the delivery of the F-35 as a "treat" is "embarrassing." He said that the deal is part of an attempt to reach an understanding with the Americans. "Either we reach an understanding with the Americans or the Arabs will before us, and then we will have to deal with it."

The US proposal in exchange for resuming peace negotiations entails several conditions, one of which is that Israel must announce a moratorium on settlement construction in Judea and Samaria for three months. This will include construction that began after the September 26 end date of the initial moratorium. The US has agreed that the building freeze will not apply to east Jerusalem and that no further extension will be demanded.

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