‘Delegitimization’ of Israel a graver threat than war, former intelligence chief says

Amos Yadlin urges government to make an offer to the Palestinians, work closely with the US on Iran

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Amos Yadlin, former Director of Military Intelligence, Nov. 2012. (photo credit: Kobi Gideon / FLASH90.)
Amos Yadlin, former Director of Military Intelligence, Nov. 2012. (photo credit: Kobi Gideon / FLASH90.)

With the chances of a war breaking out in the coming year relatively low, Israel must face up to the graver strategic threat of “delegitimization” in the international arena, a former IDF military intelligence chief warned on Wednesday.

Amos Yadlin, who now heads the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, explained that Israel’s powerful military deterrence would cause Hezbollah, Syria, and even Iran, to think twice before attacking the country. The proof, he said, was that Hezbollah had not fired a shot since the end of the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

“If I had to stand before the cabinet and estimate the chances of a war in 2013, I would say that it seems a campaign against us will not be opened,” he said.

However, Yadlin cautioned, the country still faced a “strategic threat” just as pressing as that posed by “rockets and missiles: the threat to our legitimacy in the world and the attempt to turn us into a pariah state.”

Still, the Iranian nuclear program, which had seemingly been put on a back burner, would return to the forefront of Israel’s security agenda, he predicted, stressing the importance of maintaining a close working relationship with the US over Tehran.

The statements, quoted on the website of the Hebrew-language daily Maariv, were made at a seminar organized by the National Security Studies Center at Haifa University.

When it came to negotiations with the Palestinians, Yadlin argued, both sides would have to make concessions: Israel, for one, would be required to relinquish areas of East Jerusalem.

However, the former intelligence chief said, the Palestinian leadership would be unable to follow through with what was required of it: to declare an end to the conflict and to give up on the “right to return” for refugees and their descendants.

The Palestinians have “homed in on a smart strategy: to wrangle Israeli concessions from the international community without making any concessions themselves,” Yadlin said. Thus, instead of relying on the Palestinians, Israel must take its own fate in hand and shape its future unilaterally. The first step, he claimed, should be to make the Palestinians an offer based on parameters set out by former US president Bill Clinton after the failure of the Ehud Barak-Yasser Arafat peace talks he brokered at Camp David in 2000.

“I imagine the Palestinians would reject [the offer], though I would be happy if they accepted it,” he said.

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