Amid American talk of a possible breakthrough in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Saturday expressed profound pessimism regarding the prospects of an agreement. Ya’alon also warned radical elements in Syria not to try Israel’s patience in what was the first response by an Israel minister to an apparent attempt Friday to attack IDF soldiers along the border with Syria.
“As someone who supported the Oslo Accords, I’m learning that we have no partner on the other side” for a two-state solution, said Ya’alon, echoing comments made by Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman over the weekend. “On the other side, there isn’t, and hasn’t been since the dawn of Zionism, a leadership that’s willing to recognize our right to exist as the nation state of the Jewish people, and to see in an agreement an end to the conflict and an end to all demands. We won’t talk about an inch, a millimeter of land so long as we don’t see that we have a partner that’s talking about recognition, about the end of the conflict and the end of the right of return.”
Ya’alon, who spoke at a conference in Tel Aviv, pointed at anti-Israel incitement in the Palestinian territories as evidence that Israel didn’t have a true partner in President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority. Israel will only have a peace partner “when they stop teaching their children to put on explosive belts and blow us up; and when the State of Israel will appear in their textbooks; and when Tel Aviv, which they consider a settlement, will appear on the map.”
US officials, including President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, have reiterated in recent days that any peace agreement must include Palestinian recognition of Israel as the Jewish state. The condition would effectively do away with the longstanding Palestinian demand for a “right of return” for refugees of the 1948 war and their descendants.
In his remarks, Ya’alon also reacted to an apparent failed bomb attack against IDF soldiers on Friday, warning radicalized elements to Israel’s north not to test the army’s resolve to defend the border.
“The current situation in Syria produces threats against us that we haven’t had to deal with, and our policy is crystal-clear: not to get involved in the internal war, but to set down clear red lines,” he said. “We] won’t allow the delivery of game-changing weapons to hostile elements, with an emphasis on Hezbollah, the transfer of chemical weapons, and any challenge to our sovereignty on the Golan Heights.”