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World Affairs

Former Israeli P.M.: Obama Has 'Closest-Ever' Relationship With Israeli Intelligence

Ehud Barak
Steve Newborn
Ehud Barak speaks to the media before his Sarasota appearance

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak  spoke Monday night at a meeting of the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee.

He says that the deal to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons should last for at least five years - but after that, it's anyone's guess.

Before the event, he sat down with WUSF's Steve Newborn, and spoke about the U.S. helping Israel develop the capability to bomb Iraq's nuclear facilities - if it's needed.

"I thought that with a real, genuine trust between our two governments, it's not inconceivable to think of America equipping Israel now with the equipment or means to carry out an Israeli independent surgical attack on the Iranian nuclear capability," he says, "if both governments - I emphasize both governments - agree that Iran made a breakthrough or was trying to reach a weapon, and America for whatever reason was unable to act."

Barak also says that contrary to popular belief, President Barack Obama has been a close supporter of Israel.

"It's true that on the public face of it, it seems that there is more friction with Obama than there appears to have been had with (George W.) Bush," he says. "But I can tell you that under the guidance of President Obama, Israel enjoyed the closest-ever relationship with the American intelligence community."

Click here to listen to the entire interview between WUSF's Steve Newborn and former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak

Barak served as Israel’s prime minister from 1999 to 2001. He took part in the Camp David 2000 Summit which was meant finally to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict but failed.

He  completed a 36-year career in the Israeli Defense Forces as the most decorated soldier in its history. He was a key architect of the 1976 Entebbe Operation for the rescue of passengers on the Air France aircraft hijacked by terrorists and forced to land at the Entebbe Airport in Uganda.  Barak also was involved in the  implementation of the 1994 peace treaty with Jordan. He also previously served as Israel's Minister of the Interior and Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Last year, Foreign Policy magazine named Barak 13th among its "100 Global Thinkers."

The Wall Street Journal declared him “one of Israel’s towering military figures for much of the past two decades. He is seen as the architect of Israel’s air-power-heavy modern deterrence doctrine. Mr. Barak ended Israel’s 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000, and his peace proposals at the 2000 Camp David negotiations with the Palestinians remain a blueprint for ending the conflict.”

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