Yuval Steinitz 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
If Iran remains a nuclear threshold state, there will be a Sunni- Shi’ite
nuclear arms race, Intelligence and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz
said on Wednesday.
Any agreement with world powers must dismantle Iran’s
nuclear program, he continued at a conference on Regional Upheavals, held by the
Israel and Middle East studies department at Ariel University.
Middle East has gone mad,” said Steinitz, adding that nobody had expected what
has happened in the Middle East over the past few years.
(res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, director-general of the Strategic Affairs Ministry,
said people in the Middle East do not understand what the US’s policy is, as it
has turned on its traditional allies in the region and drawn closer to Iran and
the Muslim Brotherhood.
It was bewildering for them to see the US
favoring the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Kuperwasser said. “Don’t they [the US
administration] understand that it is a worldwide Islamist organization that
opposes the West?” “What do the Americans want, and do they know what they
want,” people ask, he said. “The answer is no, they don’t know and we don’t
Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, appears serious to
observers in the region, Kuperwasser said. “He does what he says” – you can
count on him to save his allies, people think.
“Precisely when the US
position is weakening, it sharpens Israel’s position as an island of regional
stability,” he said.
The region is experiencing an “existential war”
where the players are fighting for their lives, said
Regarding the negotiations with the Palestinians, he
asserted that the only way for Israel to guarantee its security after an
agreement would be to carry out the necessary security activities
“If it was possible to make peace with the Palestinians, we would
have been prepared to make significant concessions, mainly in the area of land,”
Furthermore, the Palestinians are not willing to recognize
Israel as a Jewish state, Kuperwasser said.
Events in each country are
affecting the entire Middle East, he explained. The push-back against the Muslim
Brotherhood in Egypt led a regional push-back against Islamist regimes such as
Asked by The Jerusalem Post what Israel’s interests were in
Syria, Kuperwasser responded that Israel did not want to interfere, but it
“cannot remain quiet about what is going on there,” referring to the
Our interest is to provide humanitarian aid and
to prevent attacks on the Golan border, he said, adding that it could not be
ruled out that in the long-run, a nationalist Sunni regime that was not Islamist
could come to power in Syria.
Prof. Alexander Bligh, director of the
Middle East Research Center at Ariel University, said that Saudi Arabia was at a
The kingdom had never faced so many challenges. Saudi Arabia
today was a fully nonaligned country, maintaining relations with the US and
Russia and making sure to buy out any possible intra-Arab opposition, he
The increased tensions between Saudi Arabia and the US are very
important, Bligh told the Post.
Asked about rumors of Saudi-Israeli
cooperation, he said the countries “share interests, but it does not mean they
are working together as a coalition.”
Pinhas Inbari, a senior Middle East
analyst for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, told the Post that
economics and the struggle to enter modernity were the root causes behind the