The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is more of an existential threat to this nation
than a nuclear Iran, former Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin said on Wednesday
To solve the conflict, Israel must immediately freeze Jewish
building in the West Bank outside the settlement blocs, and pledge to release
all Palestinian prisoners at the end of the negotiations, Diskin said at the
10th anniversary event hosted by the Geneva Initiative.
of the absence of a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is more
existential than the Iranian nuclear issue,” Diskin told an audience at the Tel
Aviv Museum of Art.
Sources close to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
slammed Diskin and his comments, saying that “anyone who thinks that the
Palestinian threat is greater than the threat of a nuclear bomb in the hands of
Iran, which calls for the destruction of the Sate of Israel is divorced from
reality and lacking any strategic vision.”
According to the sources,
Netanyahu will continue to work to remove the Iranian nuclear threat, and
simultaneously try to move forward to a diplomatic solution with the
Palestinians; but only one that will maintain Israel’s security
Netanyahu will be influenced by neither “recycled statements,
nor the righteous preaching that flows from the personal frustration of someone
who wanted to be appointed the head of the Mossad, but did not get the job,” the
In his speech, Diskin outlined a plan to foster an
atmosphere that could lead to a two-state solution.
immediate and more important than anything, is to immediately freeze all the
settlements outside of the big settlements blocs,” Diskin said to a round of
applause in the large, packed auditorium, which included diplomats and
Such a step would help restore faith that something has
changed and it would also stop West Bank settlement growth from getting out of
control, Diskin said.
Second, Palestinian prisoners should be released at
the final stages of negotiations, even though this is an emotional point for the
“A peace agreement justifies even the release of
Palestinian prisoners, but this should be done only at the final stages,” said
This kind of release differs from the “cynical political” deal
reached now, in which Palestinian prisoners were released to allow for continued
settlement building, Diskin said.
“We must change the Israeli and
Palestinian public attitude from a feeling that there is only a past, to one of
belief that there is also a future,” Diskin said.
“We have to believe in
the path and our leaders have to be clear they support two states for two
people,” Diskin said.
“There has to be a dramatic change in Israel’s
political map, in which there will be a new coalition composed of parties that
support peace,” he added.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
must speak of peace in the Knesset and Israeli leaders should speak before
Palestinian Fatah politicians in Ramallah, Diskin proposed.
One also has
to look to Israel’s neighbors for help in the resolution of the conflict, Diskin
Jordan and Egypt, he said, should be brought into the negotiations
at an early stage and this “is critical for its success and its future,” he
It is important for the US to strengthen its ties with the new
Egyptian government, Diskin said.
There have been dramatic changes in the
region, brought on by the Arab spring and the threat of a nuclear Iran, that
require Israel to think of a new regional strategy in which it re-evaluates both
the dangers and the opportunities, including creating closer ties with Jordan
and Egypt, Diskin said.
He dismissed those on the Israeli Right who call
for a Palestinian state in Jordan.
Jordan cannot be the homeland for the
Palestinian people for the same reason that Uganda cannot be the homeland for
the Jewish people, said Diskin.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle
East Peace Process, Robert Serry, said that “the international community is
becoming increasingly impatient and that is why we stand to lose much if the
talks fail again.”
He reminded the Israeli public that “there is a
partner in Ramallah” and that now was the time to capitalize on the Arab League
Initiative to resolve the conflict that promised to normalize relations with
Serry said that this nine month round of direct talks between
Israel and the Palestinians, which US Secretary of State John Kerry hopes to
boost in his visit here on Thursday and Friday, could be the last chance to
reach an agreement for a two state solution.
Herb Keinon contributed to