Barak warns against defense cuts: We live in Middle East

Defense minister says he's willing to cut defense budget only as part of "package deal"; adds IDF, Shin Bet preparing for worst in September.

Ehud Barak 311 (photo credit: Ariel Tarmoni/Defense Ministry)
Ehud Barak 311
(photo credit: Ariel Tarmoni/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday warned against irresponsibly cutting the defense budget in response to social justice protests across the country, saying, "We live in the Middle East and it would be wrong to ignore that fact."
In an interview with Army Radio, Barak identified with protesters, saying affordable housing "is not a luxury," but added that he would agree to budget cuts only as part of a comprehensive "package deal."
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"The Defense Ministry and the IDF are part of the country and we will help carry the burden with everyone - if there will be a package deal, we will be part of it, " Barak stated, adding that a team would be formed to check the possibility of cutting the budget.
Barak addressed the Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations in September and the possibility that the move could be accompanied by violence in the West Bank.
"As of now no special reserve enlistment is planned for September. I estimate and hope that September will pass quietly. We are in discussions with the Palestinians, but the IDF and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) are preparing because it is impossible to know what will really happen," Barak stated.
He added: "This recognition will begin a process that will change Israel's status in the world, an isolate us, but the sky will not fall on October 1.
Barak rejected the idea that Israel should cut off funding to the PA or annex the settlement blocs in response to the Palestinian statehood bid, saying such moves would "hurt Israel."
The defense minister also denied reports that an agreement was in place for his Independence Party to be part of the next government as a faction of the Likud.