Today, Ehud Barak, Israel’s Defense Minister and Labor party head, presented a grim report on the state of Hezbollah’s rearmament. Barak reports that the enemy in Southern Lebanon now has 42,000 missiles–about three times what it had before the start of the 2006 Lebanon war–some of which are capable of reaching as far south as Dimona.
What is behind Barak’s pronouncements? After all, it seems a little odd, during an election campaign, for Barak to be admitting what is essentially a massive failure of the Israeli government to protect its citizens. Perhaps he is oddly humble? Abundantly professional? Preparing the public for a pre-election war?
None of the above. Scratch the surface, and you will find the hidden campaign speech you were looking for. The real problem, Barak says, is UN resolution 1701, which governs the deployment of UNIFIL troops, the end of hostilities, and above all, the prevention of arms smuggling to Hezbollah. “In practice,” Barak says, “UN Resolution 1701 isn’t working . . .” That resolution, of course, is what Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was pushing for throughout the war, and to date she presents it as more or less her only major achievement in office.
But let’s say that Barak is right (and he almost certainly is) about the failure of 1701. It certainly hurts his main election opponent, Livni, who heads the left-center Kadima party. But will it help Barak? Or will it, on the contrary, send Kadima votes even further to the Right?