Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon is in Washington D.C. to, in the words of host Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, “find new ways to work together to confront Israel’s complicated security challenges, and to show the world that the defense relationship between the United States and Israel is stronger than ever.”
“While the Iran deal will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, Israel still faces very real missile threats from a number of actors in the region, including Iran and Hezbollah,” Carter said at a visit to National Defense University today with Ya’alon.
Tomorrow the pair will visit U.S. Cyber Command, and also had on the schedule a trip out to Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland to review the F-35.
“After years of unprecedented efforts to help Israel strengthen its security, the U.S.-Israeli defense relationship has never been stronger,” Carter promised.
Ya’alon warned the NDU audience that the Middle East “is going through a critical geopolitical earthquake.”
“We don’t name it — neither the earthquake nor the Islamic winter — although certain territories in the Middle East of today are governed by Islamic jihadists. Yes, it is an Islamic winter,” he said. “But there are also opportunities. But when it comes to Israel, the only democracy — the only real democracy in the Middle East, it’s like living in an island surrounded with jihadists; Shia, like Hezbollah in Lebanon; Daesh; Jabhat al-Nusra.”
“…In the past, it was Arab nationalism calling to have Middle East be only Arab. There is no room for a Jewish state. Today, it’s Islamic motives, more than national motives, calling to eliminate the state of Israel as a Jewish state.”
Ya’alon noted that Israel shares no border with Iran and has no territorial disputes with the Islamic Republic, yet “they call to wipe Israel from the map of the Earth because of Islamic ideology not allowing any non-Islamic entity to be on this piece of land of Israel.”
Ya’alon gave a lengthy history of Israel and efforts to wipe the Jews out of the land.
He slammed Western efforts of boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel as “a result of ongoing propaganda against our country.”
“Those who claim that the problem is settlement, they murdered Jews before the construction of the settlements in the West Bank. And we can discuss it. It is quite frustrating, I would say, that Western like-minded people are ready to be deceived, manipulated in this kind of propaganda, forgetting the most important distinction between good and evil, going to relativism and other distinctions of victims and victimhood,” Ya’alon said.
“…We try very hard, but the denial of accountability has become a precious strategic asset. Abu Mazen is not accountable to the Gaza Strip. He’s not accountable for what’s going on with the terrorists who try to stab Jews. He’s not accountable for anything. He’s too weak to be accountable.”
The defense minister said the cooperative strategy with the United States to tackle the violence must be “based on moral clarity.”
“How can we meet future challenges for both of us, United States and Israel, bearing in mind the developing situation which is going to be characterized in the Middle East as chronic instability for a very, very long period of time?” he said.
In response to a question from the Israeli Regional Study Team of the National War College about restarting the peace process — a priority for the Obama administration — Ya’alon said the parameters pushed by the administration are unacceptable.
“The borders between ours and the Palestinian entity can’t be back the return to 4th of June, 1967, lines. Why? Because it is indefensible borders,” he said, adding that Gaza has become a “rocket launcher.”
“They don’t have to vote to the Knesset. They have their own parliament. They have their own government. They have their own municipalities. That’s fine. We would like to see them more competent in governing themselves,” Ya’alon said.
But, he noted, a good chunk of Palestinian families get paychecks from working in Israel or in the territories for Israeli firms.
“What is the alternative? Is it going to be a viable economy in any kind of real separation? No chance. So the way that we try to manage in order to stabilize the situation, to have peace, is to create a kind of modus vivendi in which they are more accountable, they are more competent to govern themselves — imposing law and order, of course, security, better economy for the benefit of the two of us.”