- [IMRA: COS Ya’alon’s descriptions of post retreat Israel and what transpires after the formation of a Palestinian state serve as a warning against the simplistic view that either moves would improve Israel’s economy. It is interesting to note that just last week more people opposed disengagement than thought that the top IDF brass opposed disengagement.
Does the senior level of the IDF support or oppose disengagement? Supports 46% Opposes 21% Other 33% Telephone poll carried out by “Brain Base” [“Maagar Mochot”] of a representative sample of 505 adult Israelis (including Israeli Arabs) under the direction of Prof.Y.Katz for Israel Radio’s “Another Matter” program the week of 25 May 2005.]
Unless Israel commits to further withdrawals after this summer’s disengagement from Gaza, the pullout will be followed by an outbreak of renewed violence, outgoing Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon warned in an interview with Haaretz.
“If there is an Israeli commitment to another move, we will gain another period of quiet,” he said. “If not, there will be an eruption… Terrorist attacks of all types: shooting, bombs, suicide bombers, mortars, Qassam rockets.” Without an additional withdrawal, “there is a high probability of a second war of terror,” which will begin in the West Bank.
Asked whether he intended to say that, following the disengagement, Kfar Sava’s situation will be like Sderot’s today, he responded: “And Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, too. There will be suicide bombings wherever they can perpetrate them.”
Ya’alon said that recent statements by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas show that Abbas “has not given up the right of return. And this is not a symbolic right of return, but the right of return as a claim to be realized. To return to the houses, to return to the villages. The implication of this is that there will not be a Jewish state here.”
Therefore, he said, the establishment of a Palestinian state will lead to war “at some stage,” and such a war could be dangerous for Israel. The idea that a Palestinian state can be established by 2008, and will then produce stability, is “divorced from reality” and “dangerous,” as any such state “will be a state that will try to undermine Israel.”
Asked about the current situation in the PA, Ya’alon responded: “For the Palestinians it is still convenient to maintain a gang-based reality rather than a state foundation.
“When [the PA] permits Hamas to take part in the elections without abandoning its firearms, is that democracy? It’s gangs. Armed gangs playing at pretend democracy,” he said. “If Fatah continues to behave as it does now, Hamas will eventually take over the Gaza Strip,” he added.
Regarding the IDF’s plans for implementing the disengagement from Gaza, Ya’alon said that the army is preparing for the possibility of entering Khan Yunis “if there is shooting from there” during the withdrawal. The disengagement, he continued, will not create a “situation of stability.” Therefore, “I do not rule out” the possibility that the army will return to the Gaza Strip at some point.
Ya’alon said it is impossible to know how long the disengagement will take. “The question is whether we evacuate 8,000 residents or 20,000 Israeli citizens or maybe 50,000. If you evacuate 8,000, it could last three weeks. If you have to evacuate more, it could take longer.” In other words, he said, it is too soon to talk about the withdrawal as a fait accompli. “If and when we complete the move, we will talk about a fait accompli.”
Asked for his views on the general concept of two states for two peoples, he said: “In the present reality, I see difficulty in producing a stable situation of end-of-conflict within that paradigm.” A two-state solution, he continued, is simply “not relevant. It is a story that the Western world tells with Western eyes. And that story does not comprehend the scale of the gap and the scale of the problem. We, too, are sweeping it under the carpet.”
Asked whether he fears for Israel’s existence, Ya’alon responded: “A combination of terrorism and demography, with question marks among us about the rightness of our way, are a recipe for a situation in which there will not be a Jewish state here in the end.”
Regarding the army that he leaves behind, Ya’alon said he was concerned about the existence of a “criminal subculture” in the army that has even reached senior officers and become a “malignant disease.”