The only existential threat facing Israel is its defiant refusal to pursue a two-state solution to the conflict with Palestinians, ex-Mossad director Tamir Pardo warned on Tuesday.
“Israel has decided not to choose, and is hoping the conflict will one day resolve itself, or that the Arabs will disappear in some kind of cosmic miracle,” he said at a Netanya conference in memory of his late predecessor, Meir Dagan.
Pardo said that unless Israel acts to separate itself from Palestinians, Arabs from the West Bank and Gaza Strip would eventually outnumber Jews, who could one day find themselves a dwindling minority in a Jewish state.
“Eventually, we will become a bi-national state because it will be impossible to untie the knot between the two peoples,” he said. “The Jewish and Palestinian populations in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip are nearly equal, and Israel must act to separate itself.”
“Israel faces one existential threat, and its a ticking time bomb,” Pardo said. “Is this our desire and is this the Zionist vision? This is what we will want to leave our children?”
His comments can be seen as a criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has backed away from the two state solution in recent weeks and who routinely warns about the existential threat posed to Israel by Iran.
“In an extraordinary way, we’ve decided to bury our heads deep in the sand, to preoccupy ourselves with alternative facts and flee from reality while creating other various external threats,” he said. “The clock is ticking, we must weigh the facts and not the alternative facts and reach a decision. The time has come to choose a direction.”
Supporters of a two-state solution often warn of the “demographic threat” posed by Israel’s continued hold on the West Bank, with the possibility of Israel having to choose between being democratic or Jewish if it remains entangled amidst millions of Palestinians.
Last year, Pardo similarly warned that the greatest danger facing Israel was internal, and could lead to a civil war.
“If a divided society goes beyond a certain point, you can end up, in extreme circumstances, with phenomena like civil war. To my regret, the distance [until we reach that point] is shrinking. I fear that we are going in that direction,” he said at a press conference last August. “The internal threat must worry us more than the external threat.”
Since stepping down as the as the spy agency director last year, Pardo has joined the growing ranks of retired security men to urge the government to seek a two-state solution.
Following the election of US President Donald Trump, many on Israel’s right publicly urged Netanyahu to renounce the two-state solution and annex large parts of the West Bank.
Trump himself also said he had no firm commitment to a two state solution, although in recent days it appears that he has not moved as far from the positions of the Obama administration as many on Israel’s right would have wanted.