Meeting with approximately 150 “Anglos,” the Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Affairs says peace with the Palestinians is unlikely, and criticizes the U.S. for “leading from behind” in countering Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.
JERUSALEM, December 25, 2011—Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s endorsement of a Palestinian state at Bar Ilan University in May 2009 was merely part of the government’s maneuvering to alleviate international pressure on Israel.
|Vice Prime Minister & Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya'alon |
discussing the strategic challenges facing Israel at a gathering
of Likud Anglos over Channuka on December 25th 2011.
- See the story in the Jerusalem Post ('US shifted from resolving to managing conflict').
- See the story in Arutz Sheva ("Ya'alon: Israel can prevent Iran from getting an Atomic Bomb").
- See the article in the Daily Beast/Newsweek ("U.S., Israel Discuss Triggers for Bombing Iran's Nuclear Facility").
- See the article in Israpundit.com ("Steady as she Goes").
Ya’alon explained that the government inherited a “heavy burden from 17 years of the peace process” and said it would take some time to change course, indicating that the Prime Minister is not actually committed to creating a Palestinian state.
Ya’alon, who is a member of the Prime Minister’s “inner security cabinet,” said that this also applied to the 10-month settlement freeze, which he “did not like” but accepted.
Despite those concessions, Ya’alon said he believed that the Israeli government has succeeded in convincing the U.S. administration to shift from attempting to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict quickly to aiming to manage the conflict.
He also said that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who has been touted as a moderate Palestinian leader, was still committed to Israel’s destruction.
|Likud Anglos and Moshe Ya'alon honor lone soldiers|
with a Channuka lighting ceremony.
At the gathering, several former lone soldiers representing the Michael Levine Lone Soldier Center joined Ya’alon in a Channuka candle-lighting ceremony. Likud Anglos honored the former soldiers as “Modern Maccabees.”
Daniel Tauber, speaking on behalf of Likud Anglos, called on participants to be active in the political process as part of their civic responsibility. He said that Likud Members of Knesset need to know that Likud members were behind them if they were to take up controversial causes.
|Likud Anglos' Daniel Tauber speaking |
about the need for political involvement.
Moshe Ya’alon, the guest of honor, spoke regarding the wider strategic picture in the Middle East and how it affected Israel, as well as the causes of the inordinate amount of internal and external pressure on Israel to make concessions to its enemies.
Causes of Pressure on Israel
Ya’alon said that the pressure on Israel is due in part to what he called “solution-ism” and “now-ism”—the embedded and sometimes misguided Western feelings that any problem can be solved and that solutions can and must be implemented immediately.
People feel that “we reached the moon, so why can’t we solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?” Ya’alon said.
Implying that an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement may not be presently achievable, Ya’alon added: “Do we have a solution for everything? In medicine we don’t, not even in mathematics. God has solutions. We as human beings should be more modest.”
In addition to external pressure on Israel, Ya’alon said, there was internal pressure due to the feeling of many Israelis that Israel is to blame for the inability to sign a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
As an example, he cited opposition leader Tzipi Livni’s criticizing Netanyahu on this point despite the fact that her own government—in which she served as Foreign Minister—failed to conclude a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority, despite the scale of concessions that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered PA chief Mahmoud Abbas in Annapolis in 2007.
Ya’alon cited the recently published memoir of Condoleezza Rice, President Bush’s Secretary of State, in which Rice discusses her surprise at Abbas’s failure to accept Olmert’s offer.
Ya’alon said that in general, the Israeli Left has an obsession with signing peace documents, when in reality, in the Middle East, peace is built on other factors, such as common interests. He cited the fact that Israel enjoyed a state of peace and strategic relations with Jordan going back to the 1970s, long before the two countries signed a peace treaty.
As an example of secure borders in the absence of a peace agreement, Ya’alon cited the border between Israel and Syria as the quietest border Israel has, despite the fact that Israel has a peace treaty with Egypt in the South.
Abbas still committed to Destroying Israel
Ya’alon said that an Israeli agreement with the Palestinian Authority was unlikely because “Mahmoud Abbas is still committed to the phases theory--let’s eliminate the State of Israel phase by phase” and therefore the Palestinian leadership has and continues to refuse to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
“He doesn’t care about the ‘occupation’ of 1967,” Ya’alon said, since “in his speech at the U.N. General Assembly he spoke about 63 years of occupation not 43 years of occupation.”
During the Olmert government’s negotiations with Abbas, Ya’alon said that Abbas even refrained from using the term “two states for two peoples,” since that would imply recognition of Jewish nationhood—something that Abbas has denied. Ya’alon said that in the Palestinian media this was touted as a Palestinian victory in the negotiations.
Such recognition, however, is the actual basis for peace with the Palestinians, Ya’alon said, and the Israeli government under Prime Minister Netanyahu has demanded such recognition and has made it a priority in negotiations with the United States and any possible future negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
Ya’alon also said that in August 1995, when he served as head of Military Intelligence, he warned late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin that the Palestinians were not interested in reconciliation, not only on the basis of classified intelligence information, but also because of the blatant incitement against Israel by the Palestinian Authority.
“I didn’t have to use my sophisticated intelligence sources to realize - which I use, I just had to open the Palestinian textbooks or look at the Palestinian media,” Ya’alon. “And this is the case until now.”
“As long as the Palestinian young generation is educated to hate and to kill,” Ya’alon said, “there is no chance for peace. Even if we sign an agreement.”
The Arab Spring, Iran’s Pursuit of Nuclear Weapons
Regarding the state of the Middle East as a whole, Ya’alon said that the “Arab Spring” was really an “Islamic Winter,” which is part of the collapse of artificial states that were established in the region by Western nation-states after World War I.
Ya’alon also said that the Israel government still believes there is an “axis of evil,” a term used by former U.S. President George W. Bush to characterize the alliance between Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Ya’alon said that the axis now comprises Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah.
He said that the Israeli government believes that crippling sanctions against Iran coupled with a credible threat of military action would force the Islamic regime to stop its nuclear program, but unfortunately the Obama administration was not taking the necessary lead in implementing sanctions, despite repeated encouragement from the U.S. Congress.
Ya’alon complained that when it comes to Iran, the U.S. is “leading from behind,” mocking the doctrine Obama administration officials say they are using in order to get build coalitions to pursue U.S. interests.