PROPHECY REPORT BY GENERAL SHIMON EREM
This past week, I had the opportunity to spend some time talking with Major General Amos Yadlin, the man who until recently was the head of Israeli military intelligence, about what is going on in the region and threats to the Jewish State. His answers to my questions were both interesting and enlightening. Below are some of my questions and his responses:
Question: With all that is going on in the Middle East, how do you prioritize the threats facing the Jewish state?
Answer: When you are speaking of countries that pose a threat to Israel, there is no doubt that Iran is on the top of the list. It is a very radical country, with a very radical ideology, and very serious intentions of developing a very radical weapon — nuclear arms. The hatred from Iran is a real threat. The Iranian regime not only incites hatred with words, but with weapons, with training and with the money it uses to support every extreme group against Israel. And the prospect for a nuclear weapon in the hands of these extremists is, as far as I am concerned, the only existential threat facing Israel now.
Second on my threat list would be Syria and Hezbollah. It requires a tremendous amount of effort by Israel to cope with the long-range missiles and rockets that today threaten not only the Galilee, but also Tel Aviv and Israeli air bases in the center of Israel.
Then there is a threat from the Palestinian terrorists. Although it does not compare to the threat coming from Iran, Syria and the Hizbullah, there is a real threat emanating from terrorist activity in Gaza as well as from the West Bank, in addition to Al Qaeda elements and Jihadists from the Sinai area.
Question: Is a Palestinian-Israeli peace possible while Israel’s neighbors are in the midst of such a dramatic and uncertain change?
Answer: The issue of Palestinian –Israeli peace was problematic even before the so-called Arab spring. To have peace between Israel and the Palestinians, we basically need four elements to come together.
The first element we need is a very strong Israeli leadership that can make the concessions asked of Israel for peace.
The second condition is a very strong Palestinian leadership that can agree to the concessions asked of them.
Number three is the need for Arab support for peace, support from major players such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The Palestinians cannot go at it alone when they have to make historical concessions.
And last, the Israelis and Palestinians need European and American support to put value on the table when it comes to the refugee issue, to make peace more attractive for both sides to transform negotiations from a zero-sum game. Israel needs the spoilers who want to destroy peace to be removed from the equation, or at least weakened. These are the Syrians and Iranians in particular — all of the region’s extremists. If one looks at the Arab uprising, it has basically made all four of these elements needed for peace more difficult. The Israelis are less willing to take risks when they see that peace can disappear in a moment after giving-up land, as was the case with the Gaza Strip, and now may even be the case with Sinai. Also the Palestinians feel that the so-called Arab spring gives them leverage when dealing with Israel, so they will be less willing to compromise now.
Question: Are the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people, ready for statehood?
Answer: The answer to this question is both yes and no. If you look at what has happened in the West Bank in the last three or four years under the Prime Ministership of Salam Fayyad and under Abu Mazen, the Palestinian Authority has taken steps when it comes to creating law and order, controlling terror, and developing institutions that will enable the Palestinians to create a state. Unfortunately, there is also the no. The state building efforts accomplished in Judea and Samaria, the so-called West Bank, have not occurred in Gaza. Gaza is still a land of terror, which is not controlled by Abu Mazen and is not ready for statehood. If there is to be a Palestinian state, we at least need to see what happened in the West Bank also happen in Gaza. But this is not the case, which is why the answer is both yes and no.
Question: Some analysts argue that Hamas has moderated its stance over the years. Is this true?
Answer: We have to distinguish between Hamas being pragmatic on some everyday life issues, and its long-term ideological objectives. They still refuse to recognize the State of Israel or to denounce terror. Hamas however is ready to call for a cease fire, when the cost of the continuing to fire rockets at Israel is increased. So in the short run, they can seem as though they are behaving moderately or pragmatically, but their ideology hasn’t compromised with their vision of the future.
Question: If Israel is prepared to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority, what explains the Palestinian Authority’s impulse for a unilateral declaration of independence at the United Nations?
Answer: One must look at the Palestinian strategy over the last two years. The Palestinians have decided that it would be better for them to bypass Israel and go to the international community to get what they want — namely, 1967 borders, Jerusalem, and the Palestinian State. If they get it from the international community, they don’t have to negotiate with Israel or concede to what Israel asks of them, which is an end to the conflict, security arrangements, and return of refugees only – only — to the Palestinian state.
Question: Is there a silver lining from Israel’s perspective to the fall of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak? How secure is the peace between Israel and Egypt?
Answer: The peace with Egypt is very important not only for Israel but also to Egypt. Both countries enjoy the fact that there is no prospect of war anymore, and both have used the peace to build their economies. The peace with Egypt is not in danger if we are speaking about the alternative as going to war. It is not in Egypt’s interest to go to war. They have paid a very large price for three wars with Israel that drained their energy, money, and blood. But between full peace and war there are many gray areas. Even the peace with Mubarak’s regime was not a warm peace like the one that exists between Canada and the United States. For instance, Mubarak removed his ambassador from Israel in 1982, and again in 2001, after Israel responded to Palestinian mortar attacks with helicopter attacks on Gaza. So peace can remain peace, but it can be made colder. It can even be hostile. But, no, I don’t think there will be a war with Egypt.
So that is it as far as my interview with Major General Yadlin goes. As he mentioned, the main threat to Israel and the West now is really Iran. A nuclear-capable Iran could use its clout to advance its interests and objectives not only in its neighborhood, with Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, but also in the Gulf states – Yemen, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar – and in Latin America in Venezuela, where it could foster more terrorist activity against the United States. The risk to Israel, the U.S. and the West of the development or acquisition of nuclear arms by an Iranian regime determined to advance its long-term strategic objective of enforcing its Islamist worldview on a global basis