Defense Minister tells Wall Street Journal that Israel must be on guard considering the unrest sweeping the Arab world, adding increased aid could help make Israel a 'stabilizer in such a turbulent region'.
Israel may request an addition $20 billion in military aid from the United States in light of the unrest sweeping the Arab world, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published Monday.
Barak deemed the changes in the region a "movement in the right direction", and said that in the long run, Israel should not fear the "movement of Arab societies toward modernity."
But in the more immediate future, he told the WSJ, Israel would have to contend with the fact that Iran and Syria "might be the last to feel the heat" and join the trend of unrest.
In addition, Barak said, Egypt's new leaders may adhere to the country's 32-year peace treaty "for the time being," but could eventually succumb to popular pressure against it.
He also told the WSJ that a top Egyptian official recently warned him that the new government in Cairo was likely to change its attitude toward Israel unless the latter made serious efforts for peace with the Palestinians.
"He told me, 'We're going to have a really open election....Civic parties will hire advisers from the U.S. and Europe and find immediately that what can bring them voters is hostility to America and Israel," Barak said in the interview.
While Israel did not face an immediate threat to its security, Barak told the WSJ, "The issue of qualitative military aid for Israel becomes more essential for us, and I believe also more essential for you [the U.S.].
"It might be wise to invest another $20 billion to upgrade the security of Israel for the next generation or so," he said, adding: "A strong, responsible Israel can become a stabilizer in such a turbulent region."