Defense Minister Mosh Ya'alon speaks at the IDF Conference in Herzliya, June 9, 2015.
(photo credit: HERZLIYA CONFERENCE)
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon expressed cynicism on Tuesday regarding the Middle East peace process, saying he did not see a stable deal between Israel and the Palestinians happening in his lifetime.
Speaking at the annual IDC Conference in Herzliya, Ya’alon said Palestinian refusal to compromise had been made clear.
According to Ya’alon, the Palestinians’ refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state is a central challenge to reaching a peace deal.
He also noted previous peace offers under past prime ministers that the Palestinians did not accept, and indicated that the situation would not change in the near future.
The Palestinians were “offered a framework deal on the basis of the Clinton parameters, and the Palestinians walked away from the process,” he said of the latest round of peace negotiations that broke down last April.
He underlined, however, that Israel did not seek to rule the Palestinians; rather, he said, they already have significant autonomy, including their own president and parliament.
The Palestinians have even chosen to split their authority between the Fatah-led West Bank and the Hamas-led Gaza Strip, he went on, saying that this arrangement also made peace negotiations difficult.
He emphasized Gaza’s dependence on Israel at this point, with Israel facilitating “over 700 trucks” of supplies per day, as well as water, electricity and other needs for the Palestinian population.
Turning to Iran, the defense minister said that despite international sanctions aiming to curb the Islamic Republic’s possible nuclear ambitions, Tehran continued to meddle in terrorist activities across the Middle East, including in Gaza.
Regarding the four-yearlong Syrian civil war, Ya’alon warned that Shi’ite-led Iran’s engagement on the border with Iraq against radical Sunni group Islamic State should not be regarded as a positive effort. Rather, he said, Iran’s fight against the group served to promulgate Tehran’s policy of maintaining instability in neighboring Iraq.
As for a final nuclear deal slated to emerge at the end of June between Iran and the P5+1 world powers, Ya’alon said such an accord would only make the Islamic Republic a threshold nuclear state and stronger economically.
Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor also spoke at the conference and expressed skepticism about Western peace ideas that involved a full Israeli withdrawal from the Jordan Valley.
Prosor said that out of the entire UNDOF force, which was supposed to guard and keep the peace on the Israel-Syria border, nearly everyone except 66 Nepalese UN soldiers had withdrawn to the Israeli side, and many of them were sitting in restaurants in Tiberias.
His point was that when the border got rough due to the Syrian civil war, UNDOF provided Israel no protection, and Israel could only rely on the IDF to protect its borders. As such, according to Prosor, pulling the IDF out of the Jordan Valley for some other peacekeeping force to protect Israel would not work.