IDF intel chief: Arab street will determine how Mideast rulers accept peace plan

Maj. Gen. Tamir Hayman declines to offer specific predictions of what ramifications of plan could be; former general says Israel got everything it wanted security-wise

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

The head of Israeli Miiltary Intelligence Maj. Gen. Tamir Hyman speaks at the Institute for National Security Studies think tank in Tel Aviv on January 28, 2020. (Israel Defense Forces)
The head of Israeli Miiltary Intelligence Maj. Gen. Tamir Hyman speaks at the Institute for National Security Studies think tank in Tel Aviv on January 28, 2020. (Israel Defense Forces)

The head of Israeli Military Intelligence on Tuesday said reactions to US President Donald Trump’s plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in capitals in the Middle East would depend on how it is received on the street level.

Maj. Gen. Tamir Hayman, who spoke in Tel Aviv at the same time as the plan was being released in Washington, said it would be “unprofessional” for him to make large predictions about the effects of the plan before he had reviewed it thoroughly.

“The ‘Deal of the Century’ is being published now, and it would be unprofessional to discuss its consequences,” Hayman said, speaking at an opening event for the annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies think tank.

“The matter will surely be covered in the military and on social media, and it will have an impact on the wider public in both the Palestinian and the Arab world, which will have an impact on the policies of those countries,” he said.

“We will try to learn from this and to assess to where it will lead.”

As he spoke, Palestinians in Ramallah and Gaza held fiery protests against the plan, which has been rejected by the Palestinians.

Arab League chief Ahmed Abuel-Gheit said the Palestinian reaction would define the Arab response to Trump’s peace plan. He spoke after meeting with Palestinian official Gibreel al-Ragoub at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo.

Earlier in the day, the Israel Defense Forces deployed an additional infantry brigade to the Jordan Valley out of concerns for an outbreak of violence in response to Trump’s plan.

The military said it was conducting constant situational assessments amid concerns of violence in response to the long-awaited proposal, which the Palestinian Authority rejected both preemptively and after-the-fact.

Trump’s long-awaited plan was seen as tilted firmly in favor of Israel, with the Jewish state receiving nearly all of its security-related demands.

Institute for National Security Studies Chairman Amos Yadlin attends the Annual International Conference of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv January 23, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)

Amos Yadlin, a former head of IDF Military Intelligence, called US President Donald Trump’s peace plan “perfect” for Israel in terms of the country’s security demands.

“On security, Israel got everything,” said Yadlin, who is now the head of the esteemed INSS think tank.

The US president’s proposal called for the creation of a Palestinian state made up of many enclaves connected by roadways around Israeli settlements, which would be allowed to remain in place. Under the plan, this Palestinian state would have its capital in Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem beyond the security barrier. The rest of Jerusalem would remain the capital of Israel.

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett instructed the IDF to remain on high alert ahead of the plan’s release and prepare for the possibility of violence, as well as for the threats by the PA to not restrain or disperse rioters in the West Bank.

“The minister instructed the troops to be prepared for the scenario of an immediate escalation [of violence] in light of the presentation of the plan and the agitation of the street, without the cooperation of the Palestinian Authority,” his office said.

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, left, meets with IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, second from left, Judea and Samaria Division commander Brig. Gen. Yaniv Alaluf, center, and other senior IDF officers in the West Bank on January 28, 2020. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

According to unconfirmed reports in Hebrew media, PA President Mahmoud Abbas instructed Palestinian security not to stop protesters from confronting Israeli forces in the West Bank as the US releases the plan.

According to the Ynet news site, Abbas said: “We need to enlist all the young people. Stay out on the streets. We’re going to be on emergency footing in the coming days… Ahead of us are difficult days and we will need to bear the consequences of refusing the agreement.”

The several hundred soldiers that were deployed to the IDF’s Jordan Valley Division on Tuesday came from the Golani Brigade’s reconnaissance battalion.

Palestinian demonstrators hold pictures of US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a protest in the village of Kfar Qaddum, near the West Bank city of Nablus, November 29, 2019. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

Throughout the day, Bennett toured the West Bank and met with IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, the head of the Central Command Maj. Gen. Nadav Padan, and the commander of the Judea and Samaria Division Brig. Gen. Yaniv Alaluf.

“The IDF and troops in the field are prepared for any eventuality. We have before us days that will determine the borders and the application of sovereignty,” Bennett said during his visit to the West Bank.

“Threats by the Palestinians will not deter us,” he added.

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