Israeli National Security Strategy

(Washington Institute for Near East Policy) Moshe Yaalon - In the Arab world over the past five years, artificially constructed states such as Syria, Iraq, and Libya are breaking apart and creating dangerous power vacuums. These broken states are unlikely to put themselves back together again and will probably be reconstituted into ethnically homogenous cantons or loose confederations. Israel does not wish to intervene in these internal Arab conflicts. Israel's biggest threat comes from Iran. Although the nuclear deal lengthened Tehran's timetable for building a bomb, the Iranians will retain some of their nuclear infrastructure, and thus the capacity to build a weapon in the next ten to fifteen years. They also continue to make regular conventional weapons deliveries to terrorist groups throughout the Middle East, including Hizbullah, radical Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria, and the Houthis in Yemen. Iran has helped establish terrorist infrastructure on five continents - a fact that belies its portrayal as moderate under the leadership of President Hassan Rouhani. Some see Tehran as part of the solution to the regional conflicts because of its willingness to fight the Islamic State. Yet its opposition to that Sunni jihadist group should not be viewed as anything more than a ploy to remove an ideological rival and gain a greater foothold in the region. The Sunni Arab camp comprises Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, the UAE, and others. Israel shares several common adversaries with this camp. The U.S. should join Israel in publicly aligning with the Sunni Arab camp. These states are not asking the U.S. to deploy ground troops to the region - they just want Washington to be more engaged by supporting partners on the ground with airstrikes and intelligence and making their alliances known more openly. While the Palestinian question still occupies a good deal of attention, it is not solvable at this time. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the core of the conflict does not stem from the disputed territories captured by Israel in the 1967 war, but from the fact that the Palestinians are not willing to accept the presence of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. As long as they are unwilling to recognize Israel's legitimacy, there is no value in making territorial concessions. This line of reasoning also dispels the idea that unilateral Israeli withdrawals would create the political momentum for a peace plan. Israel should focus on improving economics, infrastructure, law enforcement, and governance in the Palestinian Authority. Ultimately, the Palestinians will also have to make sweeping changes to their education system, stop demonizing Jews, and concede that Israel has a right to at least some of the land. In other words, they cannot advance the cause of peace while also claiming that Tel Aviv is a settlement. These broad changes to Palestinian society are a prerequisite to real negotiations. Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon is a former Israeli defense minister and IDF chief of staff.

2016-09-20 00:00:00

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