Ya'alon: We have no partner for two-state solution

Defense minister charges that Iran, not Israeli-Palestinian conflict, remains the main source of instability in the Mideast.

Ya'alon at Globes conference 370 (photo credit: Ariel Hermoni, Defense Ministry)
Ya'alon at Globes conference 370
(photo credit: Ariel Hermoni, Defense Ministry)
In a thinly veiled criticism of the Obama administration, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Saturday that those who place the Israeli- Palestinian conflict as the source of instability in the Middle East are mistaken.
He said that Israel has no viable peace partner in the Palestinians, who have yet to recognize Israel as a Jewish nation-state or signal their willingness to end the conflict.
“Events in Tunisia, Egypt [and] Syria have no connection to this [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict.
The Iranian issue also has no connection. This conflict is local, but it is not the most important in the Middle East,” Ya’alon said, speaking at the Israel Business Conference, organized by Globes.
The defense minister said, “As someone who supported [the] Oslo [Peace Process], I’m learning that on the other side we have no partner for two states for two people. There is no one on the other side.
[There] hasn’t been, since the dawn of Zionism, a leadership that is prepared to recognize our right to exist as a nationstate for the Jewish nation and to recognize an agreement as the end of the conflict and the end to demands.
“We won’t talk about an inch, about a millimiter of territory, if we don’t see that we have a partner who talks about recognition, about the end of the conflict and about giving up the right of return. We will not implement the doctrine of stages.”
Although the conflict is unsolvable at this time, other issues, like improving the Palestinian Authority’s economy, governability, law and order can be improved, Ya’alon said.
The defense minister said he would be convinced that a partner exists on the other side “the moment they stop teaching their children to put on bomb belts and explode against us, when the state of Israel appears in text books and when Tel Aviv, which they consider to be a settlement, appears on the map.”
The IDF and its freedom of operation in Judea and Samaria is what is protecting the Palestinian Authority from extremist Islamism, Ya’alon said.
Iran remains the biggest threat, Ya’alon stressed, saying that even after signing an agreement with the international community in Geneva, the regime in Tehran continues to activate terrorism in Afghanistan against US interests, as well as in Iraq, Bahrain, Syria, Lebanon and Gaza, while calling for Israel to be destroyed.
“It is activating terrorism in Africa, Asia, and South America. Therefore, [Iran] is the most significant source of instability in the Middle East... it is a threat to the stability of the region, and to the world.
“We are acting responsibly to create a reasonable situation that serves our interests,” said Ya’alon.
Egypt today is doing more to combat terrorism in Sinai and illegal smuggling than in the past, and criticism of it by the Obama Administration is unwarranted, he said.
Ya’alon asked why “specifically this [Egyptian] regime is getting criticized by the American administration, that is demanding democratic standards from it. At this time, are democratic values more important in a society that is not built for that? “The US administration is trying to push the new Egyptian government to cooperate with the Muslim Brothers. This is grounds for a discussion with the Americans.”
Ya’alon said in his speech that the West’s mistake is believing that the Middle East can be democratized through elections. “Those who think this is possible are simply wrong,” he said, adding, “This is a long process that begins with education, not elections.
“Hence, the failure is written on the wall. We’ve seen this in Gaza and we’ve seen it in Egypt.”
Earlier in his address, Ya’alon spoke about Syria’s civil war, saying its end was not in sight.
“The regime cannot defeat the opposition, and the opposition cannot defeat the regime. The only thing that strengthened the regime is the guarantee it won through the agreement on chemical weapons.
“But on the ground, it is losing territory every day. we see this on the Golan Heights, in Damascus, and in Aleppo. Syrian President Bashar Assad controls less than 40 percent of Syrian territory.”
Ya’alon warned that events in Syria are creating new kinds of threats to Israel. He said that there was no unified, agreedupon Sunni opposition, saying that Israel’s policy on Syria was clear. “We don’t get involved in the internal war, but we place clear red lines: Not to allow the transfer of balance-altering weapons to hostile elements, with an emphasis on Hezbollah, not to allow the transfer of chemical weapons and not to allow harm to our sovereignty on the Golan Heights.”
Referring to Friday’s border bomb attack on an IDF patrol, Ya’alon said, “Yesterday, an incident occurred and we do not know who is behind it. I suggest that all of the elements on the other side of the border, be they the regime, jihadi organizations, Hezbollah or any other element, do not test these red lines, because we will protect our interests.”