Barak makes pledge on Syria arsenal

Grant Shapps meets Ehud Barak at the Bicom dinner this week

Grant Shapps meets Ehud Barak at the Bicom dinner this week

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has reiterated his country’s determination to prevent Syria’s weapons falling into the hands of Lebanese terrorist organisation Hizbollah.

Speaking as the guest of honour at the annual fundraising dinner for Bicom (British Israel Communications and Research Centre), Mr Barak said: “I have instructed the IDF to monitor closely the possible transfer of advanced weapons systems and Assad’s chemical arsenal into Lebanon. We will take any necessary action to prevent this.”

Mr Barak first suggested that Israel could act after the killing of five Israeli tourists at Bulgaria’s Burgas airport in July, an atrocity which Israel blamed on Hizbollah and Iran. However, at the time, the defence minister said the IDF would merely “consider carrying out an operation”, so the Bicom speech marks a subtle escalation of the language on the Syria-Hizbollah issue.

The former prime minister and IDF general paid tribute to the UK government’s hardline stance on sanctions against Iran and its campaign to have Hizbollah added to the EU’s list of terrorist organisations. But he warned that Iran becoming a nuclear power was simply not conceivable. “All options are on the table to prevent Iran from crossing the point of no return,” he said. “We expect all those who say it to mean it; we mean it.”

During his London visit, Mr Barak held meetings with Foreign Secretary William Hague and Defence Secretary Philip Hammond. The JC understands he was also due to meet Labour leader Ed Miliband.

The full text of Ehud Barak’s speech can be found at: www.bicom.org.uk/comment-and-opinion/9795

Last updated: 12:27pm, November 1 2012