Efraim Halevy, who led the Mossad from 1998 to 2002, doesn’t think Israel needs to insist on the Palestinians or anyone else for that matter recognizing Israel as a Jewish state or approving its right to exist.

Halevy, who was speaking at Kehilat Moreshet Avraham in the capital’s east Talpiot neighborhood on Sunday night, in an event co-sponsored by The Jerusalem Post, said that Israel is a Jewish state and that any treaty or agreement signed with Israel by any other state or entity is tantamount to recognition. It doesn’t have to be spelled out.

The fact that there are those who do not accept a Jewish state does not make Israel any less Jewish, he said. “Our Jewishness does not depend on them. But we have that problem that we need their recognition.”

In the peace treaties that Israel signed with Egypt and Jordan, said Halevy, there is no mention of recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, so there is no need to insist on this in dealings with the Palestinians.

Israel was also close to a deal with the Syrians, but decided not to go forward, said Halevy, who surmised that had a peace agreement been reached with the Syrians, it would not contain reference to recognition of Israel as a Jewish state or any mention of Israel’s right to exist.

“We believe that our influence on the mindsets of our enemies is next to nil, and [that] if they don’t accept our existence here, this is a threat with which we cannot live.”

After reaching a peace agreement with Egypt, which had been Israel’s “most formidable enemy,” Israel should have surely gained an enormous injection of self-confidence, because in this achievement, Israel had broken the Arab anti-Israel alliance of solidarity, said Halevy.

Halevy questioned why Israel needs such assurance, and cited a conversation he had with a prominent Palestinian, who had told him that Israel’s insistence on recognition would suggest that if the Palestinians don’t recognize Israel, Israel would lose its right to exist.

Israel has convinced the free world that if Hamas doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist, “we won’t talk to them,” said Halevy, who implied that this was so much hogwash. “We talk to them all the time,” he said, then later corrected himself, saying that Israel may not be talking directly to Hamas, but communicates with Hamas.

As for the Iranian nuclear project, Halevy disclosed some of the details of a meeting on nuclear nonproliferation that he had attended in a European capital. There were several high ranking Iranian representatives at this meeting and the Iranian ambassador had declared that Israel must be forced to sign a nonproliferation treaty.

“Israel has never said that it has nuclear weapons, nor has it said that it hasn’t,” said Halevy, who had seized on the Iranian ambassador’s remarks and had told him that he was absolutely right, because only legitimate states sign international treaties and that this was the first time that the Iranians had recognized the State of Israel.

The ambassador tried to bluster his way out, but the point made by Halevy had prevailed, he said.

Although Israel has many near miraculous achievements to its credit, Halevy believes that Israelis have not overcome an inherent Jewish perception of being the victim. After 2,000 years of suffering, being despised among the nations and victims of anti-Semitic actions that resulted in massive loss of life, Israelis still have difficulty in being self-confident when it comes to personal and national security.

Israelis always labor under threat despite the fact that “we have the most efficient, most capable and most brutal defense capability in the region.”

In negotiating with the Palestinians, he continued, Israel has always focused on an end to the conflict. “There will never be an end to the conflict,” he asserted. “We need to translate conflict into something you live with in different terms.”

World Wars I and II were supposed to bring an end to conflict, but they didn’t, he said.

Halevy cited several conflicts in which the adversaries have found a way to live together without peace treaties or final borders. “So why should we demand a final border?” he asked. “Why should we always want the ultimate?”

Halevy was relieved that the concept of a Middle East common market envisaged several years ago by President Shimon Peres, when as foreign minister he had written his book on The New Middle East, had not come to fruition, having been rejected by the Arab states.

Halevy asked his audience to imagine the economic havoc if all the countries in the region had accepted this idea and what would have happened to the Middle East economy in the wake of the Arab Spring.

“Sometimes certain types of rejection are a blessing in disguise,” he said.

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