Ya'alon and Gantz visit IDF troops in West Bank 370.
(photo credit: Courtesy Ministry of Defense)
Israelis can relax over the upcoming Rosh Hashana holiday because Israel is not planning to interfere in Syria and its enemies understand the price of attacking Israel, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Tuesday as he visited a lookout point next to Ramallah.
“Israeli citizens can be relaxed and celebrate the new year and the upcoming holidays, in peace and tranquility. They also do not need to run to stock up on gas masks,” Ya’alon said.
Although he stood in the West Bank, against the backdrop of Palestinian buildings, his words were all about the threat from Syria and Hezbollah along the northern border and against the looming danger of Iran completing its nuclear weapons program.
“In light of events, our eyes have been, are, and will be on developments in the North,” Ya’alon said.
"We are taking care of securing the peace in a responsible manner, in spite of the surrounding storm and the possibility that in the coming weeks, we will see some sort of offensive action by the US,” Ya’alon said.
He added that the IDF was ready and would be ready to in any scenario to safeguard Israel’s security.
He stressed that an attack against Syria was an American operation, not an Israeli one, based on US concerns.
"We are not involved and we're not going to interfere in what is happening in Syria. We have repeated and emphasized this. With respect to American preparations for an offensive operation, this activity stems from the crossing of an American red line, and even with respect to this, we are not involved,” Ya’alon said.
Israel was of course prepared for the consequences of such an attack should it occur, he said.
Ya’alon ducked reporter’s questions on US President Barack Obama’s decision to seek authorization from Congress
for military action in Syria. He noted that this was "an internal American one and we are not interfering with it.”
Ya’alon said that he, the prime minister and the IDF chief of staff were in communication with their American counterparts.
“We have open channels with our allies who share the same strategic interests in the region,” Ya’alon said.
Until the end of last week, Ya’alon said, there were those in the region such as Syria and Hezbollah who believed they could prevent an American attack by threatening Israel, Jordan or Turkey.
“They thought we would run to the Americans and ask them not to attack,” Ya’alon said.
He added that it is likely that they have dropped this tactic now that it failed to panic Israel.
“Anyone that will try to challenge us, understands … they will pay a heavy price for it, whether it is Hezbollah or any other party,” Ya’alon said.
On Iran, Ya’alon said, "our assessment with regard to the Iranian threat, is that the US president is obligated to prevent Iran for acquiring nuclear weapons, "and this challenge is still before him and before us.”
He also briefly expressed skepticism over the renewed Israeli Palestinian negotiations, and noted that next week, marks 20 years to the signing of the Oslo Accord.
"It seems to me that negotiations with the Palestinians will occupy us for many years, and along the way there will be much speculation," Ya’alon said.