“We’re in a world surrounded by storms. The Middle East is boiling,” said Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon at the gala evening of the “Globes” 2013 Israel Business Conference on Motzoei Shabbos.
“We face many challenges,” said Ya’alon, “but when looking at the upheavals and our close borders, the security situation has been relatively stable lately. The Golan Heights are quiet and blooming, the situation in the south has improved, there is deterrence against the Gaza Strip, but this should not be taken for granted. There is no question this is a once-in-a-century event: the collapse of the Arab nation-state. When delving into this, you realize that the nation-state did not suit a tribal country like Libya, or a sectarian state like Iraq.”
Ya’alon continued, “In the north, Syria is in the midst of a civil war, the end of which we cannot see, even if the regime is saying that it is gaining strength, on the ground it is losing day by day. We see this in Damascus and in Aleppo. Assad control less than 40%. There is no question that the threat from Syria has diminished, but there are other threats. There are al-Qaeda elements, and there are moderate Sunnis in many countries.
Ya’alon said that, for Israel, the red lines in the Syrian civil war were “preventing the transfer of chemical weapons and the violation of Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights. There was an incident yesterday. I advise all the parties on the Golan Heights not to test us.”
Ya’alon hinted that Iran was a common enemy of Israel and Saudi Arabia, saying, “The situation creates opportunities. There are many common interests here – the Shia axis as a common enemy, and so on. There is a common denominator. I wish to look at two issues on this point. There is the Israeli-Palestinian issue. We’ve heard that this is a major source of instability in the Middle East and that it should be solved as quickly as possible. We wonder if it is really a source of instability in the Middle East. It’s one thing if that were said three years ago, but we have no border with Iran, for example. Nonetheless, some people think that if we settle this with a territorial compromise, we’ll have peace. As someone who supported the Oslo Accords, I don’t believe that we have a partner.
“The dispute exists, but the question is, what is this dispute. Is it only territorial? Gentlemen, there is no leadership on the other side that was prepared to recognize our right. There is no leadership there if were we to reach a territorial compromise, they would accept it. Is it a lost cause? We say, no. It’s good that we separated politically. They chose to separate, Gaza and Judea and Samaria. We’re ready with the Palestinian Authority, but let it be clear, we won’t discuss one inch if they do not agree to our right to national existence and forego the right of return. Without that, what can we do? Operate on the salami principle?
“That is why the issue is insoluble. But progress is possible: economics, governance, law. When will I be convinced? I’ll look at their textbooks. When they stop teaching to wear bomb belts, when Tel Aviv appears on the map, then there will be something to talk about. It’s much more complicated. That is why we also talk about security. Security begins with education, in recognizing our right to exist. But we too have those who have to be shown the way.”
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