The Wall Street Journal reports:
Israel will need to boost military spending and may seek an additional $20 billion in U.S. security assistance to help it manage potential threats stemming from popular upheavals in the Arab world, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Monday.
Still, he said Israel shouldn’t fear changes in the region or the risk of offering bold concessions in a renewed bid to achieve peace with the Palestinians.
“It’s a historic earthquake…a movement in the right direction, quite inspired,” Mr. Barak said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, surveying the youthful revolts in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and the Gulf. “It’s a movement of the Arab societies toward modernity.”
In the short term, however, Israel worries that adversaries Iran and Syria “might be the last to feel the heat” of regional unrest, he said, and that public pressure could push new leaders in Egypt away from that country’s 1979 peace treaty with the Jewish state.
“The issue of qualitative military aid for Israel becomes more essential for us, and I believe also more essential for you,” said Mr. Barak, a former prime minister. “It might be wise to invest another $20 billion to upgrade the security of Israel for the next generation or so….A strong, responsible Israel can become a stabilizer in such a turbulent region.”