(photo credit: Yaakov Katz)
The Palestinians are making a “huge mistake” by moving forward with plans to
unilaterally declare statehood at the United Nations next week, Home Front
Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said on Wednesday.
Vilnai said that
diplomatic efforts to stop the Palestinian Authority’s plans were continuing
around the world and that PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam
Fayyad were at odds over the plan. Fayyad is understood to be opposed to the
declaration at the UN.
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“There is no question that something will happen
with September although no one knows what it will be,” Vilnai said following a
briefing to reporters.
“There are disagreements between Abu Mazen [Abbas]
and Fayyad and there are continued diplomatic efforts to stop them. The
Palestinians are making a huge mistake and they know it.” He said that the
defense establishment was preparing for a wide-range of scenarios that could
erupt along Israel’s borders and in the West Bank.
Earlier, a senior
defense official said that current IDF assessments were that demonstrations and
disturbances that erupt following the PA’s declaration at the UN will likely
last a number of months.
“Everyone talks about September but it is not as
if September 31 will come and everything will end,” the senior official said.
“We assume that it could last throughout October and November as
Vilnai and OC Home Front Command Maj.-Gen. Eyal Eisenberg also
summed up the recent national civil defense exercise that was held in Israel
under the name “Turning Point 5.”
According to Eisenberg, the drill,
which was held in June, has led to increased interoperability between various
Israeli emergency services such as the Home Front Command, Magen David Adom and
the Israel Police. He said that the IDF has installed over 3,000 sirens
throughout the country, a 50 percent increase since before the Second Lebanon
War in 2006.