(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Political upheavals in the world could lead to major changes in alliances, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, the executive director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies and former head of IDF Military Intelligence warned on Wednesday.
After presenting the annual comprehensive INSS assessment on Israel’s security situation to President Reuven Rivlin, Yadlin said that while Iran continues to be Israel’s main challenge, there are other tensions in the region.
Yadlin does not anticipate war in the immediate future, and has great confidence in Israel’s military and technological strength – but he said that if war does erupt, Israel will be fighting on several fronts, especially taking into account the relations between Syria, Iran and Hezbollah, as well as Iran’s increasing influence in Lebanon.
As for Israel’s ongoing conflict with the Palestinians, Yadlin cautioned that there could be a Palestinian uprising in Judea and Samaria after Mahmoud Abbas fades from the scene. The long-delayed publication of the Trump peace plan
could also spark an outbreak of violence, he said.
Regarding the situation in Gaza, Yadlin asserted that if the government had acted on the INSS recommendations in 2017, “we would not have the humanitarian crisis in Gaza that we have today.”
Studies show that the younger generation of Palestinians is disappointed both in Abbas and in Hamas, said Yadlin. “Hamas has brought them to a catastrophic humanitarian crisis, and the younger generation wants a single Palestinian state, not two Palestinian states.”
Yadlin is of the opinion that Israel should not worry too much about America’s withdrawal from the Middle East. “Every American president has done what he considers is best for the American people,” he said.
Militarily, Israel has always fought her own battles, he emphasized.
“The US has always been an ally, but that could change.”
Yadlin characterized as “super important” the agreements that Israel has with Egypt and Jordan, and said that all efforts should be made to maintain them. At the same time, Israel must be alert to the possibility that any radical change in either country could affect Israel.
America can be relied on for diplomatic support and sanctions, he said, but would have a lot of reservations about future military action in the region.
Notwithstanding occasional disputes with Russia, Yadlin insisted – as he has done many times before – that “Russia is not our enemy. The Iranians are our greatest risk, and in 2019, their struggles against us will escalate. “
With Israeli elections on the horizon, Yadlin is concerned about a possible attempt at a cyberattack, which he said would cause great damage to Israel’s democracy.
He is convinced that cyber influenced the outcome of the US presidential elections because Americans were fed with so much disinformation that it became difficult for them to discern between truth and fiction. “We have to be aware of cyber dangers when we go to our elections,” he declared.
He suggested that there should also be greater awareness of strenuous efforts in Europe and the United States to delegitimize Israel.
He was likewise concerned that the political and religious rift between Israel and Diaspora Jews is yawning ever wider, and said that it was imperative to narrow the gap.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the assessment was in the realm of prejudice. Dr. Tzipi Israeli presented a survey which included attitudes towards the Arab population, which points to the high rate of Israeli Jews who think that Arabs are not entitled to equal rights.
Rivlin praised the assessment, which acknowledges that Israel’s military and diplomatic power, despite all the challenges, is at an unprecedented level. He also lauded the patriotism and courage of the researchers to be critical of government policy and decisions, and to list the various threats confronting Israel, including possible changes in the relationships with the US and Russia.
“We do not have the privilege of indifference,” said Rivlin.
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