On Monday, the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee said farewell to Minister of Defense Ehud Barak (Haatzma’ut). Barak participated in his last committee meeting before retiring from his post. The chairman of the committee, Avigdor Liberman (Likud Yisrael Beitenu) congratulated Barak and stated that today, as the Minister of Defense is leaving, we mark the end of an era in politics and in the defense system. “During the past years you have done much for Israel’s safety, including many actions that were not reported in the media.” Liberman emphasized that the IDF is an integral part of the State of Israel, and therefor will have to undergo significant budget cuts. The Chairman also mentioned that the coming Minister of Defense will have to be active about equal rights and obligations within the Haredi and and minority sectors, like no other minister before.
Minister of Defense Barak stated: “Over the years we have advanced our military abilities which include long term defense options and building the capability to cope with Iran. We face many complicated challenges, including the smuggling of advanced weaponry to the Hezbollah. We have strengthened and deepened our relationship with the US in the military and intelligence fields, and have received much support from the American congress and government. We continue to strengthen our multi-level defense capabilities, which will widen our latitude to the state level and may even prevent wars in the future, or significantly shorten any future wars.” Minister Barak stressed his appreciation for the work of Ministers Begin, Meridor and Ya’alon despite the criticism towards all Ministers without Portfolios. “They were able to contribute maybe specifically because they had the time to think, read and thoroughly investigate the defense issues.”