Yuval Diskin 311.
(photo credit: Sivan Faraj )
The reconciliation agreement signed in Cairo between Fatah and Hamas will not
last, and there will not be genuine Palestinian unity for years to come, Shin
Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Yuval Diskin predicted on Wednesday in a rare
briefing to the press.
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“I think the chance of a real reconciliation
between the sides over the next two or three years is slim,” said Diskin, who
will step down on May 15 after six years at the Shin Bet helm. He will be
succeeded by Yoram Cohen, a former deputy.
Hamas’s refusal to allow Fatah
to regain a foothold in the Gaza Strip, and Fatah’s refusal to allow Hamas to
regain a foothold in the West Bank, are two of the main obstacles to genuine
reconciliation, he said.
“The signing of the agreement creates a facade
of unity, but it is unclear how they will implement the agreement on the
ground,” Diskin added.
Other problems include Hamas’s refusal to accept
the Quartet’s conditions – recognizing Israel’s right to exist, recognizing
previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and a
cessation of terror activity – as well as the two sides’ inability to establish
a joint security force.
Despite the expected establishment of a new
government, Diskin said he did not believe Israel needed to suspend its ongoing
coordination with PA security forces in the West Bank. Some defense officials
have expressed reservations about this as Fatah establishes a new government
“It is not worth getting into a situation that is
irreversible,” he said. “As long as the security forces do not change their
policies and action on the ground there is no reason for us to change our
Diskin also played down the possibility that a third intifada
would break out in the territories on May 15, as called for by several Facebook
groups, or following a unilateral Palestinian declaration of statehood in
September at the United Nations. He said a lot depended on the steps Israel
takes to counter the Palestinian push for independence.
“The world will
not turn upside down on October 1,” he said. “If, however, there is a complete
deadlock, this could lead to frustration – although I don’t know when that will
be, and it will depend a lot on what steps Israel takes.”
Diskin expressed hope that the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation would advance
negotiations aimed at securing the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad
Schalit. The signing of the agreement in Egypt, he said, meant the Egyptian
government now has more influence over Hamas and could possibly assist in
leading the sides toward an agreement on a prisoner swap.
wide-ranging briefing, Diskin also took “personal responsibility” for Israel’s
failure to secure Schalit’s release.
The Armored Corps soldier was
abducted by Hamas in June 2006 during Diskin’s leadership of the Shin
“I did not succeed in securing his release – not in a military
operation or through negotiations – and I see myself, as head of the Shin Bet,
as the person responsible,” Diskin said. “I feel great sadness that Gilad is not
He added that Israel had invested “resources, efforts and
operations” to gain his release but in the end failed.
“This is a
tactical incident that turned into an affair with strategic consequences for the
State of Israel,” he said, adding that the outbreak of the Second Lebanon War
some two weeks after Schalit’s kidnapping forced the country to shift its focus
and resources for a period of time, during which it lost critical
He also warned that the failure to properly integrate
Israeli Arabs into society could have consequences for the country that are as
strategic in nature as Iran’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons.
ongoing upheaval in the Middle East, Diskin warned, has the potential to spread
to Israel due to the continued conflict with the Palestinians and the tenuous
relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel.
“We are constantly keeping an
eye to see if there is change that will take us somewhere else,” he
Diskin also pointed out the rising threat that radical right-wing
Jewish groups pose to the state as well as to the Palestinian population in the
West Bank. He said he was most concerned with the so-called Hilltop Youth and
with “Kahanistim” or followers of slain far-right-wing Rabbi Meir
“I detect anti-government, anti-establishment and even delusional
messianic processes within these groups,” he said.
Diskin also referred
to the Shin Bet security detail responsible for protecting the prime minister,
adding that another assassination of a prime minister by a Jew would be
“tantamount to the destruction of the Third Temple.”
“The rift that is
already in Israeli society will become too great to overcome,” he said.