Yaalon: “The Palestinians are an existential threat: Iraq is not.”

Yedioth Ahronoth (p. 2) by Rami Hazut — “If we don’t win this war against the Palestinians,we will find ourselves facing a threat of cancer-like proportions,” said Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon.

A month after having been appointed chief of staff, Yaalon yesterday gave an exposition of his world view vis-a-vis the conflict with the Palestinians and the Arab countries. His speech, which he gave after having ordered his officers not to criticize the political echelon, was replete with criticism – some more explicit and some less so-of various political decisions.

“War, Not Intifada”

Yaalon, who spoke at the national conference of Israeli rabbis that is held annually in advance of the high holidays, focused principally on the implications of Palestinian terror, “which constitutes the most serious security threat to Israel.” Yaalon rejected the commonly accepted name, Intifada, that was given to the current conflict, and said: “A war is being waged between us and the Palestinians. We are not talking here about popular action by the public that embarked on a struggle. The Palestinian Authority reached a decisive point at which it believed that it would succeed in defeating us by means of an initiated campaign of terror and violence.

“It is the Palestinian leadership that is directing this war and it has determined its character, whether it is with shooting attacks, suicide attacks, terror attacks inside the Green Line, or terror attacks in the territories-everything is directed from above.”

The chief of staff said that the only solution is to achieve an unequivocal victory over the Palestinians that will not leave any doubt as to Israel’s victory: “The current Palestinian leadership is not prepared to recognize Israel’s right to exist as an independent Jewish state. It is imperative that we win this conflict in such a way that the Palestinian side will burn into its consciousness that there is no chance of achieving goals by means of terror. If we don’t do that we will find ourselves on a very slippery slope that will damage our deterrence and our relations with the Arab countries and the Israeli Arabs. The Palestinian threat harbors cancer-like attributes that have to be severed and fought to the bitter end.”

“Hizbullah Feels it was Victorious”

Yaalon said that the Palestinians were encouraged by the IDF’s withdrawal from Lebanon, which stemmed from the pressure of Israeli society that found it hard to bear the numerous victims. Yaalon: “Among the Palestinians were those who believed that the Israeli citizens’ tolerance level would be far lower and that they would not be able to sustain 600 dead and a serious blow to the Israeli economy, but reality proved them wrong.”

The chief of staff criticized the withdrawal from Lebanon, which he believes bolstered the Arabs’ tenacity. “Hizbullah believes that the withdrawal stemmed from guerrilla pressure on Israel, which led to strategic decision-making. All of the Arab elements opted for what they perceived as the Israeli weak spot: society’s lack of endurance, the assumption is that strikes at the civilians of the State of Israel will propel processes similar to the withdrawal from Lebanon. A society that broadcasts an inability to stand casualties applies pressure from the bottom up that ultimately leads the political echelon to make decisions that suit the Arab party’s interests.”

Yaalon said he was not particularly troubled by the American strike on Iraq-or the Iraqi response that is anticipated to include a missile attack on Israel. He said that Iraq belongs to the group of countries that have the destruction of Israel on their agenda. Yaalon said this list also included Iran and the Palestinian Authority.

“Saddam Will Try to Fire Missiles”

“Iraq, like Iran, openly calls and acts for the destruction of Israel. There is no doubt that in the event that Saddam Hussein should feel threatened by the Americans, he will try to fire missiles at Israel. I am also certain that if he were capable he would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons, but the attack on the nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981 and the Gulf War severely disrupted Iraq’s ability to develop nuclear weaponry. At the same time I tell you that the Iraqi threat does not keep me awake at night. We are fully capable of defending ourselves from it and it does not constitute an existential threat to Israel.”

As to Iran, Yaalon said: “Iran openly calls for the destruction of Israel and acts by all means at its disposal, including attempts to acquire nuclear weapons, to achieve that goal. Iran stands behind the operation of terror organizations, either by means of Hizbullah in Lebanon or by means of support for the Palestinian terror organizations, such as Islamic Jihad, Hamas and even the Palestinian Authority itself, which is behind terrorist initiatives; the best example that demonstrates this issue is the Karine A ship.”

Chief of Staff: “We have to defeat the Palestinians.”

Ma’ariv (p. 2) by Shlomo Ceszana and Eitan Rabin.

Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon believes that the “current Palestinian leadership does not recognize the State of Israel’s right to exist as an independent Jewish state and it is trying to realize the doctrine of stages. It believes that by means of terror and similar processes it will succeed in establishing a state first in Judea, Samaria and Gaza and then in other parts of the Land of Israel as well.” Yaalon continued, “One can hear all about the doctrine of stages in internal-Israeli voices that I cannot discuss… ” [… ]

Yaalon: “The struggle against the Palestinians keeps me awake at nights. It is like a threat with cancerous dimensions and attributes. Namely, it is a threat that is not always visible, but it is devastating and very dangerous. Just like cancer, sometimes the patient is not clearly told he is sick. The current Palestinian leadership does not recognize Israel and does not want us to go on living in our country. I’ve been saying that for seven years, but in the past two years there are already people who are prepared to listen. In places where question marks used to be drawn, I was already drawing exclamation marks.

“You need to understand that this isn’t another Intifada here. There was one Intifada, in 1987. Today there is an initiated war, not a popular awakening that has gone out into the streets. The PA does not have a leadership that has lost control. We have here a clear decision that they prepared for and which they made two years ago. When the United States and Israel reached a decisive point titled ‘end of conflict,’ the PA perceived that as a threat and chose to dodge the decision by means of an initiated campaign of violence and terror.

“The Palestinians hoped that Israel would withdraw unilaterally from large swathes of territory in Judea, Samaria and Gaza in capitulation to terror. They must not be given the sense that terror wins. As a military man I say: this conflict must be won in a way that the Palestinian side will burn into its consciousness that there is no chance of gaining achievements with terror and of forcing Israel to surrender. It needs to be made clear that there is no chance of getting anything on our side to move by means of terror and violence. Any understanding achieved in the wake of terror is tantamount to an Israeli surrender to terror. If this struggle ends with terror having produced achievements for the Palestinians we will find ourselves on a slippery slope in terms of our deterrence in our relations with the Arab countries and with the Israeli Arabs.” [… ]

Chief of Staff: “We have to defeat the Palestinians”.

Ma’ariv (p. 2) by Shlomo Ceszana and Eitan Rabin.

Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon believes that the “current Palestinian leadership does not recognize the State of Israel’s right to exist as an independent Jewish state and it is trying to realize the doctrine of stages. It believes that by means of terror and similar processes it will succeed in establishing a state first in Judea, Samaria and Gaza and then in other parts of the Land of Israel as well.” Yaalon continued, “One can hear all about the doctrine of stages in internal-Israeli voices that I cannot discuss… ” [… ]

Yaalon: “The struggle against the Palestinians keeps me awake at nights. It is like a threat with cancerous dimensions and attributes. Namely, it is a threat that is not always visible, but it is devastating and very dangerous. Just like cancer, sometimes the patient is not clearly told he is sick. The current Palestinian leadership does not recognize Israel and does not want us to go on living in our country. I’ve been saying that for seven years, but in the past two years there are already people who are prepared to listen. In places where question marks used to be drawn, I was already drawing exclamation marks.

“You need to understand that this isn’t another Intifada here. There was one Intifada, in 1987. Today there is an initiated war, not a popular awakening that has gone out into the streets. The PA does not have a leadership that has lost control. We have here a clear decision that they prepared for and which they made two years ago. When the United States and Israel reached a decisive point titled ‘end of conflict,’ the PA perceived that as a threat and chose to dodge the decision by means of an initiated campaign of violence and terror.

“The Palestinians hoped that Israel would withdraw unilaterally from large swathes of territory in Judea, Samaria and Gaza in capitulation to terror. They must not be given the sense that terror wins. As a military man I say: this conflict must be won in a way that the Palestinian side will burn into its consciousness that there is no chance of gaining achievements with terror and of forcing Israel to surrender. It needs to be made clear that there is no chance of getting anything on our side to move by means of terror and violence. Any understanding achieved in the wake of terror is tantamount to an Israeli surrender to terror. If this struggle ends with terror having produced achievements for the Palestinians we will find ourselves on a slippery slope in terms of our deterrence in our relations with the Arab countries and with the Israeli Arabs.” [… ]

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