'Iran, aided by proxy terrorist groups, biggest existential threat to Israel'

Terrorism wave in Jerusalem on the decline, says Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee chair.

Iran launches missile from undisclosed location (photo credit: REUTERS)
Iran launches missile from undisclosed location
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Citing Iran and its proxy terrorist organizations, Hamas and Hezbollah, as the greatest existential threats to Israel, former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head and current chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Avi Dichter, said the Middle East is undergoing “tectonic movements.”
“We used to have three enemy countries: Syria, Jordan and Egypt,” said Dichter Monday during an international press briefing at The Israel Project’s headquarters in Jerusalem.
“We signed a peace treaty with Egypt and Jordan, and today we have four enemy countries – Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, which has an army of terrorists, and Iran, an enemy state.”
While Israel has historically engendered a robust level of deterrence against hostile neighbors by winning several damaging wars, he contended that a recently empowered Iran, aided by its allies, now poses the most imminent danger to Israel’s security.
“I think that we all understand that Iran learned that the best way to gain support among the Arab countries in general, and the Arab people in particular, is by creating hatred, or launching attacks against Israel,” he said.
“They know that directly [attacking Israel] is very complicated. They have seen that it is a lot easier to do it by proxy.”
In terms of the Palestinian conflict, Dichter said that while the world discusses a two-state solution, “we are living in a three-state solution: Israel, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and Gaza led by Hamas.”
Noting the advanced age of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, 81 – compounded by his limited influence in Gaza, which he has not visited in nearly 10 years – Dichter said Hamas head Khaled Mashaal is poised to succeed him, to disastrous effect.
“If you listen very carefully to [Mashaal’s] speeches, in English he speaks in a way that you can understand that he supports a solution on the ‘67 lines,” he said, adding: “I recommend you listen to his speeches in Arabic.”
According to Dichter, during Mashaal’s most recent Arabic speech in Gaza, he ensured his followers that Hamas would seize far more land beyond those lines, including Jaffa, and Safed, in the Galilee.
With respect to the tenuous security situation in Jerusalem, which has necessitated an unprecedented number of police officers, Dichter said the recent lull in attacks is proof that counterterrorism efforts have finally yielded results.
“The most problematic issue and the most problematic incitement is coming from the Palestinian Authority, so we are trying to coordinate with the other side, because they know that there are no walls for incitement,” he said.
“But, if you look at the number of terrorist attacks, and the number of Israelis who have been injured, you see a huge decline [over the past several months]. Nothing happens in one day, but you can see that when the philosophy of war is used against [terrorists] by the army, police, and Shin Bet, attacks go down.”