It’s better for Israel to suffer economic sanctions than rocket attacks on its heartland, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Monday, issuing a scathing rebuke against pressure for Israel to pull out of the West Bank without adequate security arrangements.
Speaking at an economics conference in Tel Aviv organized by the Hebrew business newspaper Calcalist, Ya’alon also castigated Western policies towards the Middle East, which, he said, were based on ignorance, and accused the Palestinian leadership of not being sincere in wanting peace with Israel.
Reacting to recent reports of a growing call in Europe to impose sanctions or boycott Israel over its settlement construction policies, Ya’alon said that while sanctions may be bad, rocket fire from the West Bank is worse.
“I don’t want a boycott,” Ya’alon said. But “if the alternative to a European boycott is rockets from Nablus, Jenin and Ramallah on our cities, on our strategic home front, on Ben-Gurion Airport, then you know what? I prefer the European boycott.”
The defense minister compared Western government attitudes toward the Middle East to policies imposed following both World Wars, based on the idea that “they were sure that they know what is right for the Middle East.”
“It is a matter of ignorance and unfamiliarity with the Middle East, its demographics and its mentality, its culture,” he said. “Ignorance, naivety, wishful thinking, patronization and other conceptual mistakes.”
Ya’alon pointed at events in Egypt, where the elected Muslim Brotherhood was overthrown by a military coup, and Gaza, which he referred to as “Hamistan,” as examples of how Western political methods have gone awry.
“Democratization by elections is a failure that is written on the wall,” he asserted. “Hamistan is definitely not a democracy.”
A security hawk who holds one of the most senior positions in Israel’s government, Ya’alon cast doubts on Palestinian long-term intentions in the peace process. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has never actually said that signing a peace treaty will bring an end to the conflict, Ya’alon claimed.
“They are only trying to get what they can and then they will continue,” he said, and charged that the biggest problem preventing reconciliation is the continued education empathizing with anti-Israel terrorism within Palestinian society.
“It all begins with education,” he said, echoing recent Israeli claims that terror attacks were rooted in Palestinian indoctrination.