Israel will consider Lebanese government buildings and bases a target if Hizbullah starts up another war against Israel, Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned Monday.
The Defense Minister revealed that then-U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Ehud Olmert, when he was Prime Minister in 2006 and asked him not to touch what Barak called the “precious government” of Beirut.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Washington Post, Defense Minister Barak added, “We didn't [attack it]. I think that they're responsible for what happens, and if it happens that Hizbullah will shoot into Tel Aviv, we will not run after each Hizbullah terrorist or launcher of some rocket in all Lebanon. We'll see the government of Lebanon responsible for what happens, and for what happens within its government, its body politic, and its arsenal of munitions. And we will see it as a legitimate to hit any target that belongs to the Lebanese state, not just to the Hizbullah.”
Barak also warned the United States “that the walls between the Lebanese armed forces and Hizbullah—it's quite porous. And whatever you give the Lebanese armed forces might end up in the hands of Hizbullah, be it technology or weapons or whatever. “The Obama administration recently announced it giving the Beirut government $100 million in military aid.
Barak also admitted—perhaps for the first time publicly—that his order in 2000 for a sudden pullout of Israeli forces from enabled Hizbullah to prepare for war against Israel.
“We pulled out and ended up with an area full of rockets and missile.” he admitted. “We did it next in Gaza and ended up with an area full of rockets covering Tel Aviv as well as other parts of the south and half of Israel. And within the framework of considering an agreement with the Palestinians that will establish a Palestinian state side by side with Israel ,we should make sure that the three underlying principles of our security are fully assured, namely the West Bank will not become like Gaza and southern Lebanon, another launching pad for rockets against the coastal plain of Israel.”
The Defense Minister is currently in Washington, and he said that he will be talking with the U.S. Defense Department and military officials about American arms sales to Arab countries, particularly Saudi Arabia.
“There are considerations in Washington about moving forward with major deals with our neighbors and we want to make sure that we are in an understanding with the [Obama] administration.
“We understand the American need, under the strategy of the administration, to kind of strengthen the moderate Arab countries facing the same threat from hegemonic Iran. But, at the same time, we have a tradition of understanding with following administrations to keep Israel's superiority in weapons' systems and munitions.”
The Defense Minister also will discuss the prospective purchase of the advanced F-35 fighter jet. Reports last week indicated that the sale was imminent. Barak said, “We will have to make the final decisions in relatively short time,” but he pointed out that Israel needs “to be able to participate in production of some parts in our industry as well as making sure that we can continue keeping our real [military] edge.”
Turning to Iran, the Defense Minister said that the United States and Israel are closer than ever to sharing the same diagnosis unlike the previous situation whereby the NIE [National Intelligence Estimate] declared three years ago that Iran has suspended its quest for nuclear weapons.
"I think that basically it's still time for sanctions. Probably at a certain point we should realize that sanctions cannot work," he said.