Former Military Chief: Palestinians Still Striving to Destroy Israel

(Forward) Ori Nir - Moshe Yaalon, the recently retired chief of staff of the Israeli military, is credited in many circles as the military leader most responsible for Israel's success in curbing Palestinian terrorism in the past few years. As chief of staff, Yaalon coined the phrase that Israel must "brand into the Palestinians' consciousness" that violence would not yield them any political gains. He argues that the Palestinian leadership, whether Hamas or Fatah, still strives to destroy Israel. Only when Palestinians give up the dream of reclaiming their pre-1948 communities inside Israel and recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state will peace be possible. It will take at least a generation - probably more than one - for Palestinian society to ripen for peace negotiations. Until then, Israel must show strength, fight terrorism with all its might, and not reward terrorists or expose the country's volatile eastern border to attacks by withdrawing. Yaalon believes effective Israeli rule in the West Bank is strategically necessary as long as Palestinian society is not ready to live in peace with the Jewish state. Yaalon, a kibbutznik from a Labor movement background, said his analysis is based on realism - not ideology - stemming from a deep sense of disillusionment with the Palestinians. When the Oslo Accord was signed in 1993, Yaalon supported the peace process. "Personally, politically, I was ready for a territorial compromise." But hopes for a viable deal with a reliable partner started fading when he became chief of Israel's military intelligence in 1995. "I looked at the Palestinian Authority under Arafat, which by then had been on the ground for a year, and asked what it has done to fight terrorism, to prepare Palestinians for peace." He discovered that Arafat was not behaving like a man of peace, but rather like a "jihadist" preparing Palestinians for war. After he became the commander of Israel's Central Command, responsible for the West Bank, he became so convinced of Arafat's belligerent intentions that in the summer of 1999 he wrote a memo warning that around September 2000, Arafat would launch a terrorism war against Israel.

2006-04-28 00:00:00

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