The capacity Israel is developing in the cyber sphere is significantly increasing its defensive capabilities, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Tuesday, a day after it was revealed that a computer virus has been attacking Iran.
Netanyahu, speaking at the annual conference in Tel Aviv of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), said that when it comes to cyberspace, the size of a country is not significant. But there is, he said, great significance to a country’s “scientific strength, and with that Israel is blessed.”
Netanyahu did not mention the cyber issue in direct connection to the virus dubbed “Flame” that has been attacking Iranian computers, but rather in the context of five threats Israel faced, the other four being nuclear weapons, missiles, the enormous stockpiles of weapons in the region, and the influx of illegal migrants.
Netanyahu said that as one of the world’s most computerized countries, Israel is also one of the most vulnerable to cyber attacks, and for that reason was investing tremendously in finances and human resources to develop its cyber capabilities.
Regarding Iran, Netanyahu voiced criticism of the strategy behind the current talks between Tehran and the world powers known as the P5+1 – the US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany. Netanyahu said that not only did the world need to stiffen sanctions against Iran, which he said it has done, but that it also needed to stiffen its demands, which it has not.
He said that the objectives of the negotiations needed to be to get Iran to stop all uranium enrichment, transfer its stockpile of enriched uranium out of the country and close the underground facility at Qom. Only a clear Iranian commitment in the negotiations to those three demands, and their full implementation, can stop the Iranian nuclear program, he said.
Unfortunately, Netanyahu declared, while in the past the world demanded that Iran stop enrichment even to 3.5 percent, “that is not what happening today.”
“On the one hand, good is being done through imposing heavy economic sanctions on Iran, that is important and we called for it,” he said. “But on the other hand, these sanctions need to be accompanied by the demands that I spelled out.”
Only a combination of the two, he said, will bring about an end to the Iranian nuclear program.
Regarding the Palestinian diplomatic process, Netanyahu said the process was important first and foremost to prevent a bi-national state and strengthen Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic state.
“We do not want to rule over the Palestinians, and we do not want the Palestinians as citizens of the State of Israel,” he said, adding that was why he declared on three separate occasions his support for peace “between two national states, a demilitarized Palestinian state that will recognize a Jewish state.”
Netanyahu said the new government he has put together with Kadima reflected a wide consensus for a twostate solution with iron-clad security guarantees, and called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “not to miss this unique opportunity.”
He said he was not placing any conditions on entering negotiations, though he did – as do the Palestinians – have conditions regarding their outcome.
Switching into English for just a sentence, Netanyahu said, “President Abbas, all we are saying is give peace a chance.”
The prime minister rejected the notion, however, that peace with the Palestinians would bring about regional peace and stability. Referring to Islamic radicalism, Netanyahu’s said huge historic forces were working against regional stability, and would continue to work to destroy Israel and torpedo any chances for peace.
Quoting from a 1968 book by historian Will Durant, Netanyahu said there was no historical or natural guarantee that good would eventually win out and evil be crushed and disappear, but rather that a nation was obligated at all times to defend itself and had the right to use the necessary means to ensure its survival.
In his nearly 30-minute address, Netanyahu also discussed the issue of illegal migrants from Africa, saying that the problem had to be dealt with both by stopping the flood of immigrants and extraditing those here illegally. He said that extradition was a long and arduous process, but that Israel was determined to carry it out. First, he said, Israel would return to their homeland the relatively small group of migrants from South Sudan, and then move on to other nationalities.
At the same time, Netanyahu called on public figures and the public at large to demonstrate restraint and responsibility.
“We are a moral people and will act accordingly,” he declared.
“We reject violence; we respect human rights. Let us not lose our divine image, nor deny it in others. But with that we cannot accept a situation where migrants from a full continent will come here to work. We must protect our borders in order to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish democratic state.”