(photo credit: [file])
The refusal of the Palestinian leadership to recognize Israel's basic right to exist as an independent Jewish State is the main obstacle to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, former chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya'alon said Monday.
"Today, I do not see the possibility of being able to settle the conflict without defeating the regimes and terrorist organizations that still hold the idea of destroying Israel," Ya'alon said at a briefing sponsored by Jerusalem's Shalem Center marking 40 years since the Six Day War.
"You cannot defeat them by withdrawal and by disengagement," he said.
The former army chief, whose possible entry to the political arena is expected to have a major impact, opposed Israel's unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005, a view which led to his falling-out with then-prime minister Ariel Sharon.
"Until 1995, I thought we might have a Palestinian partner to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on a two-state solution, but I do not think this way anymore, based on the experience of the last decade," he said.
Ya'alon said that while in Israeli and Western discourse the word "occupation" referred to land acquired by Israel in 1967, in Arabic discourse, occupation meant "the entire Land of Israel."
Ya'alon argued that the increase in global terrorism and jihad - which he has previously called "a clash between civilizations" and "World War III" - was not the result of Israel's victory in the Six Day War, but has come primarily to due to the success of the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the failure of Arab leaders to provide their people with new ideologies and solutions to their problems.
"The way to defeat global terrorism is not by solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but by defeating jihadist regimes and their organizations by all means, including political and economic, while not excluding military means as a last resort," he said.
Ya'alon headed the IDF from 2002 to 2005 and is credited with quelling the surge in Palestinian terrorism that began in September 2000. He is currently a distinguished fellow at the Shalem Center's Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies in Jerusalem.
In a separate address, Michael B. Oren, author of the award-winning Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East and a senior fellow at the Shalem Center, also said the overwhelming majority of the people in the Middle East refused to recognize the State of Israel.
"When you have... a conflict, it only takes a spark to ignite regional confrontation," he said.
"Today, such a war could take six minutes with the arsenals our enemies have," he said.