Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, responded Sunday night to a segment about Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system aired on CBS News’s “60 Minutes” program titled “Will Israel’s ‘Iron Dome’ Help Bring Peace?” In the segment the correspondent, Bob Simon, details the effectiveness of the defense system before inevitably introducing the issue of West Bank settlements. Here’s an exchange with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak:
“Bob Simon: While the Americans are helping you so much in your defense. Israel goes on building settlements, which is exactly what the Americans don’t want. How does that work, when you’re asking America for help and doing exactly what the Americans don’t want you to do?
Ehud Barak: You know, Bob, I prefer not to answer this question right now. You know, we are in the height of the election period. I basically think that the relationship, especially between our intelligence communities and our defense establishment, is extreme– are extremely close.
Bob Simon: You mean, between the Israelis and the Americans?
Ehud Barak: Yeah. Extremely close. And of course, we have certain differences.
Bob Simon: But how does it work? I mean, right now, Israel has just announced the building of a gigantic settlement project. This is at the same time that the Americans are providing the money for Israel’s most important defense system.
Ehud Barak: You know, we are highly grateful to the administration, to American people as a whole for this support. I don’t think that it’s relevant to the issue of Iron Dome.”
Simon concludes that the Iron Dome, however brilliant, cannot bring peace. Referring back to Israel’s November confrontation with Hamas, Simon says:
“So who won? Depends who you ask. The loser, again, is any prospect of peace, and no machine, however brilliantly designed, can fix that.”
Oren and Simon have a contentious history, to say the least. Last year they butted heads over a segment Simon did blaming Israel for the West Bank’s dwindling Christian population.
Oren responded to Simon’s most recent segment, via a post to his Facebook page, where he wrote:
“60 Minutes was right: The Iron Dome missile defense system does not take lives, it saves lives. But 60 Minutes missed the true connection between Iron Dome and settlements: Israel was compelled to build Iron Dome after it uprooted 21 Israeli settlements from the Gaza Strip and Hamas took over Gaza and used it to launch thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians.”
Watch the CBS segment below: