Monday, June 26. 2006
IDF Intel Chief Says Withdrawal Increased Existential Threats
Arutz Sheva - June 25, 2006 / 29 Sivan 5766
IDF Intelligence Chief Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin recently declared that Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza has increased the number of strategic threats to Israel's existence.
Yadlin is only the latest important military and defense figure to speak about Israel's deteriorating strategic environment. Yadlin was a general in the Israeli Air Force and currently heads Military Intelligence. Speaking at Haifa University’s National Strategic Center on June 20th, Yadlin gave several factors that have contributed to Israel's deteriorating position in the eyes of the world.
The main factor, he said, was Hamas winning the elections and convincing the Palestinian people that their terrorist actions against Israel have been successful; that they forced Israel into making concessions (like the unilateral withdrawal from Gush Katif). Yadlin said that Hizbullah's Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah "was the first to claim by military force alone he would make Israel retreat from south Lebanon, with no diplomatic compromise. This trend was positively reinforced by Israel's Disengagement from the Gaza Strip."
Former Defense Minister Moshe Arens has also come out vocally against the withdrawal, saying that Israel must reoccupy Gaza as the only way to prevent the continuation of rocket attacks on towns and cities. Former IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon has repeatedly said that the path of unilateral concessions and the assisting of a Hamas controlled government will lead to a costly war.
International Jihadist Movements like al Qaeda have put Israel in the spotlight, Yadlin explained, adding that recent activities emanating from Osama Bin Ladin's terrorist network's continue to focus on Israel and the Middle East. "In the meantime, it has had a notable influence on the surroundings, such as terror attacks in Taba, rocket fire from Aqaba, and fire on Lebanon - and not on Israel itself," he said.
Meanwhile, the intelligence chief added, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continues to research and develop nuclear technology. Yadlin noted that the development of nuclear technology was a chief reason behind the turnaround from the positive atmosphere in Israel's strategic environment from April 2002-August 2005. His election to power in June 2005 has also contributed to this change.
"General Yadlin' s analysis powerfully underscores the fact that strategic threats to Israel are worsening in part on of policies like that of further unilateral withdrawals now being pursued by the Olmert government," said Zionist Organization of America's National Chairman Michael Goldblatt in a statement distributed together with a transcript of Yadlin's words. "We urge the Olmert government again to reconsider urgently the path it is proposing to take."
Our Existential Struggle: A Matter of No Nhoice
Moshe Ya'alon, THE JERUSALEM POST Jun. 25, 2006
As Israel approaches its 60th anniversary we can take pride in the wonderful achievement of having established ourselves as a regional power. But our right to exist as an independent Jewish state is still in dispute.
The acceptance of the State of Israel as an independent Jewish state on the part of our neighbors requires a long-term perspective on two fronts. On the one hand, Israeli society must remain steadfast over what will necessarily be a period of conflict spanning many years; on the other hand, we must always keep our eye on societal and moral changes that have to take place among our enemies before reconciliation can ever really occur.
Anti-terror warfare is important, but it addresses only the ability to commit terrorist acts rather than the roots of terrorism. The Palestinian education system continues to deny Israel's right to exist as an independent Jewish state; labels the entire historic land of Israel "from the River to the Sea" as "occupied"; and denies any connection between the Jewish people and their ancestral homeland. An education system of this kind is not preparing Palestinians for reconciliation, but for war.
THE ENLIGHTENED world, with the Unites States taking the lead, must continue to make financial assistance to Arab states - and especially the Palestinian Authority - conditional on fundamental educational reform. The first step should be a ban on incitement to hatred in government-controlled mosques and media, followed by significant changes in school textbooks.
This is not to say that Israel should take a paternalistic attitude by imposing educational reform on the Palestinians by force. We ought not to actively intervene except for encouraging cooperation and educational encounters between Jews and Palestinians - not just encounters in which the Palestinians accuse the Jews and the Jews accuse themselves, but encounters which take the Zionist self-understanding as a legitimate point of departure.
Yet Israel can act to encourage the democratization of the region, especially in the Palestinian Authority. It is, after all, in Israel's interest to be involved in the Middle East rather than to live in permanent isolation within the region.
THE CHALLENGES facing our military are no less formidable. In the area of conventional warfare Israel will continue to maintain a military built on a regular army and reserves, on a scale that addresses the potential threat. Maintaining our competitive edge will require continued investment in human capital, by nurturing future generations of scientists, engineers and technicians - those who will develop the IDF's technological infrastructure, its security industry, and its roots in both the civilian economy and in academia.
As far as unconventional warfare is concerned Israel must maintain its deterrent capability and make every effort to prevent our enemies from acquiring nuclear weapons. A nuclear Iran poses an extremely serious threat; such a capability in the hands of a radical regime that does not hide its intentions regarding Israel would fundamentally alter the strategic balance in the region.
For this reason, the recent speeches of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad must be taken with utmost seriousness. In his messianic Shi'ite world view, the arrival of the "Hidden Imam" - the messiah - can and should be hastened through practical measures.
When he was mayor of Teheran he invested in initiatives to prepare for the day of the arrival of the Hidden Imam. As a disciple of the Ayatollah Yazdi he believes that a precondition for the coming of the Hidden Imam is the destruction of the State of Israel.
This is a genuine belief, and any attempt to dismiss Ahmadinejad's words as mere posturing in order to garner internal support, or as simple baiting, misses their meaning. Israel must view the Iranian threat as profound and existential, and respond accordingly.
MOST OF THE terror directed at Israel today is funded by Iran. Although Hamas has its own fundraising apparatus, it has received a great deal of money in recent years from Iran.
"With regards to the challenges ahead of us, we count on an expanded role by our Iranian brothers in Palestine," Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal said in a recent joint press conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. Meanwhile, Hizbullah receives tens of millions of dollars to work and act from within Lebanon and to operate Palestinian terror in Gaza.
Israel, it must be emphasized, is far from alone in this war. For many years I have struggled with the challenge of convincing people in other countries that they, too, are in danger. As head of the IDF's intelligence branch I went to Washington in 1996 in order to convince the Americans that the Iranians aspired to obtain nuclear weapons.
Back then I found few people willing to listen. The good news, such as it is, is that in the last few years not only the Americans but even the Europeans have come to understand the Iranian threat.
TODAY, ISRAEL'S security strategic position is much stronger than it has been in the past, but the challenges of the future are great. The central one, as I have suggested, is to persuade hostile neighbors to recognize Israel, and to reconcile themselves to its right to exist as an independent Jewish state.
This is connected to a second major challenge: to internalize the advantages of a Western society without losing Jewish patriotism and identity, and without weakening the Zionist ethos. This, in my opinion, is more worrisome than the external threat: Within Israel and without, the fundamental legitimacy of an independent Jewish state is being questioned, and not only on the fringes.
My mother survived the Holocaust. My father came to Palestine in 1925 from the Ukraine as a 15-year-old after one of his brothers was murdered because he was a Jew, and another brother arrested because of his Zionist activity. On the other side, my grandmother comes from a family that came to Safed after escaping the Spanish Inquisition, and has remained there ever since.
To me it is clear that in a world divided into nations and countries, there must be at least one Jewish state, or else we will endure continuous persecution. With all the disagreement and confusion and mistakes, everything comes down to one irreducible fact: We have no choice but to prevail.
The writer served as chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces from 2002 to 2005. He is presently a visiting scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. This article is adapted from the current edition of Azure (www.azure.org.il), the journal of the Shalem Center.
Poll: Most Israelis oppose withdrawal
THE JERUSALEM POST - June 26, 2006
Most Israelis oppose Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's plan to unilaterally withdraw from most of the West Bank, a public opinion poll released Monday showed.
50 percent of Israelis oppose the premier's realignment plan, whereby Israel would pull out of the vast majority of the West Bank while maintaining the large settlement blocs, while 46% of Israelis support the proposal, the Hebrew University poll found.
While 54 percent of the Israelis polled said that the outcome of the last election grants Olmert a mandate to carry out his withdrawal plan, 58% believe a referendum should be carried out over the contentious proposal.
The poll's results indicate that the planned West Bank withdrawal is much more controversial than last year's Gaza pullout, which was supported by about two-thirds of the public, according to a series of public opinion polls carried out ahead of the Gaza withdrawal.
The poll also found that Palestinians are almost evenly divided when asked how they would vote on amuch-touted Palestinian "prisoner's document," with only a razor-thin majority in favor of the plan, which implicitly recognizes the State of Israel but also advocates the return of Palestinian refugees to Israel and the establishment of a Palestinian State along the1967 lines.
Although 74 percent of Palestinians say they support the document in general, only 47% would vote in favor of it in a referendum, while 44% would vote against it, the poll found. Nine percent of the respondents remain undecided.
A Palestinian referendum on the proposal, which calls for the continuation of Palestinian terror attacks to be restricted to the territories, is tentatively slated to be held in one month's time. Israel views the plan, which is supported by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, as a non-starter.
The poll was carried out earlier this month with the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. The Israeli poll has a margin of error of 4 percent, while the Palestinian poll lists a margin of error of 3 percent
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