Ex-IDF deputy chief: We have opportunity for further work with Arab countries

"Iran is a very strong country, with a lot of resources including formidable human resources that could threaten Israel in a very developed way..."

June 5, 2019 00:10
3 minute read.
ormer Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. (res.) Yair Golan

ormer Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. (res.) Yair Golan. (photo credit: YISSACHAR RUAS)

There are great opportunities for further cooperation with Sunni Arab states, former deputy chief of staff Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yair Golan told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

While Golan warned that “we should not trust the Gulf states or Egypt or Saudi Arabia in a way that we put our defense in the hands of others – this is part of Israel basic security policy – but there is no doubt that there are some great opportunities for further cooperation.”

Golan, who spoke to the Post at the 10th annual the International Defense, HLS & Cyber Expo (ISDEF) in Tel Aviv organized by Avnon Group, added that “the mutual relationship of Israel and Arab states today is really something we could not image just a few years ago. On the one hand it’s very encouraging but on the other hand we should only trust ourselves. It’s all about the right balance, don’t be too anxious but don’t be overconfident. By this balanced approach we can cope and prepare for future challenges.”

Golan, who retired from the IDF in March after losing to Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi for the role of chief of staff, was drafted into the Paratroopers Brigade in 1980 and held numerous command positions during his career, including as the head of the IDF Operations Directorate and commander of the Home Front Command between 2008-2011 and as head of the Northern Command before he served as deputy chief of staff.

According to the former deputy chief of staff, Israel has managed to cope with all sorts of threats, including serious ones, during its short history and “needs to look at the future, which is well adapted to future challenges.”

Touching on Iran, Golan warned that the threat posed by the Islamic Republic is “very serious” that Israel must take seriously.

“Iran is a very strong country, with a lot of resources including formidable human resources that could threaten Israel in a very developed way and therefore we need to take this threat seriously but on the other hand we should not exaggerate it,” he said.

Referring to the hundreds of defense exhibitors participating at ISDEF, Golan told the Post that the Jewish state needs to look toward the future “with a great sense of confidence and a recognition of our strengths and power and our ability to cope with future challenges in a very sophisticated and well-developed way.”

His comments were echoed by former ambassador to the US Michael Oren, who told the Post that Israel has undergone an “immense revolution” in its foreign policy relations as there is no longer any distinction between diplomacy and defense.

“Israel’s defense innovation is a major aspect-diplomatically and strategically for us and the world,” he said. “For example, we have undergone an immense revolution in our foreign policy relations with Asia, Africa, Latin America... with Sunni Arab countries.”

According to him, Israel’s defense innovation was always one of the “incentives for establishing and strengthening ties... We all face similar challenges and similar enemies. Israel is changing the ways countries defend themselves in the 21st century.”

When asked by the Post if he expected Sunni Arab countries to exhibit at future ISDEF exhibitions, Oren said he was optimistic.

“In a few years, we will see countries that are not here today... just as it was inconceivable to think of the 21st century technologically without Israel, it’s inconceivable to think of the 21st century in terms of defense and strategic terms without Israel,” he said.

The three-day-long 10th annual ISDEF exhibition currently taking place at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds has brought in officials and delegates from dozens of countries from around the world and more than 300 exhibitors.

Several national pavilions have also been set up at ISDEF 2019, including the United States, Czech Republic, India and, for the first time, China.

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