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Wednesday, November 18, 2009     GET REAL

Israel's Barak says missile defense could permit withdrawal from occupied territories

TEL AVIV — Israel's government sees the development of an effective missile defense system as a factor in what could be its eventual withdrawal from territory captured in the 1967 war.   

Officials said the Defense Ministry and military have argued against any Israeli withdrawal from such areas as the West Bank and Golan Heights until Israel develops an effective missile and rocket defense system. They said multi-layered system, including the new Arrow-3, would be able to intercept everything from short-range rockets to intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

"When the Arrow-3 is fully deployed, it will change our strategic situation and will allow us to have a political arrangement," Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said.

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In an address on Nov. 17, Barak said Israel's active defense system was vital for any peace treaty with its Arab neighbors. He said this would include the establishment of a Palestinian state in cooperation with the United States.

Barak said Israel required funds, including those from the United States, to deploy and operate a multi-layered missile and rocket defense system. He said Israel wants to expand the production of Arrow interceptors in a program with Boeing.

The defense minister said the Arrow and David's Sling programs were funded by the United States with encouragement from President Barack Obama. David's Sling was meant to intercept missiles and rockets with a range of up to 280 kilometers.

"We have to thank the current administration for continued support of Arrow and David's Sling," Barak said.

A key element of the Israel's multi-layered defense system was the ability to detect rocket launches and predict landings. Barak said the capability would enable Israel to limit its alert to civilian communities of an impending missile landing.

"This will allow life to go on," Barak said.

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