The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is becoming an increasingly onerous threat, former Mossad head and former National Security Council chief Efraim Halevy said in Tel Aviv Tuesday.
Halevy, who was addressing a luncheon meeting of Israel, Britain and the Commonwealth Association, warned of the growing danger of the combination of weapons of mass destruction with international Islamic terror, which he said could have "unspeakably horrendous" results.
Halevy cited rising oil prices as a third threat to international economic stability, and underscored that all three threats are rooted in the Middle East, which is why the world at large has come to the Middle East, he said.
Referring to the countries that are involved in fighting terror and in attempts to settle the Middle East conflict, Halevy said "they have come not to wave the flag of freedom and democracy, but because if these three threats are not contained and neutralized, the outlook for the world at large will become even more bleak."
They are not external players who have come to do a job and go home, said Halevy, "but to fight an historic battle of enormous proportions."
Israel finds itself with friends and allies the likes of which it never had before, observed Halevy. The reason for this, he said, was Israel's contribution to the fight against the three aforementioned threats.
Halevy began his address with examples of people who could change their spots, and wondered aloud whether a group within the Palestinian camp could also change its spots and help to bring about the ultimate defeat of the three threats.
He said that up until a few weeks ago, he had thought that Hamas might be able to do so because in its 19-year history, Hamas had proven it could get its act together, sustain the brunt of Israeli intelligence activities, remain intact as a movement - regardless of the demise of its leaders - and be elected to power.
"This was no mean achievement" in such a relatively short time span, said Halevy.
But to run their government properly, they would have to make a compromise on their foreign policy, which would mean changing their attitude towards Israel.
The seminal event that encapsulated everything, said Halevy, was the kidnapping of Cpl. Gilad Shalit. Now Israel and the Palestinians are in the throes of a campaign, and there is no telling where it would end.
Halevy was unwilling to predict what might happen next. All he was prepared to say was that this was an opportunity for people on both sides to look at the events and to take hard decisions to resolve the crisis.
Israel must have a finger on the trigger with a small olive branch in hand, he said.
Asked whether he thought Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was capable of changing his spots, Halevy said that he did not believe so, "and I wouldn't want him to."
From Israel's public relations point of view, there was no better man, he said. "There are some people who think he was created by the Mossad, but I think not. Sometimes a man like Ahmadinejad is performing a service to humanity."
Questioned as to how he would deal with the Shalit episode if he was still head of national security Halevy replied: "I believe that one should never underestimate the enemy, and it always helps and never harms when you approach your greatest tests with just a grain of humility."