Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Ya'alon: No More Retreats
Gil Ronen Ya'alon: No More Retreats
Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe “Bogey” Ya'alon, who is eighth on Likud's Knesset list, opened the first session of the three-day Jerusalem Conference with a Zionist speech of the old-fashioned, hard-hitting kind, that outlined a new strategy for Israel: no more retreats.
“We suffer from inertia in our way of thought,” Ya'alon said. “We pretend that there is a Palestinian entity which has recognized Israel. But from the dawn of Zionism there has not been an Arab movement that was willing to recognize Israel as the sovereign state of the Jewish nation. Mahmoud Abbas said it well before Annapolis: "Why should Judaism, this religion, have a state?" But we didn't want to listen. We blur this in the political and public debate.”
Ya'alon pointed to a disconnection from reality in Israel's strategic thinking. “We pretend that the problem began in the Six Day War,” he told a packed hall at Jerusalem's Regency Hotel. “But did the Arabs recognize us before the Six Day War? We wanted peace in exchange for territories, but we received terror for territories. And when we exited Gaza unilaterally, we received rockets for territory... After the Disengagement we went to Annapolis anyways. We didn't change the concept. Isn't this confusion?”
'Let's try something else'
The former Chief of Staff pooh-poohed the claim that the retreats were forced upon Israel by United States: “The United States did not pressure Israel to go to Oslo, or to carry out the Disengagement, or to do what it did last year with the Syrian President. There is a blurring here also. I think that after September 2000 we should have stopped and said – 'we've tried two states for two peoples, let's try something else.'”
“We pretend that the conflict is the Middle East is a territorial one but it is a clash of civilizations,” Ya'alon said. “We retreat from Lebanon and we think that this will cancel the Hizbullah's reason for existing but the exact opposite happens.”
Confusing the Arabs
Ya'alon outlined his prescription for the next government's policy: “We must stop talking about territories for peace, about the division of Jerusalem, and let the Arabs in Judea and Samaria have autonomy. Just by talking about retreats we give jihadist Islam a boost.”
“Some of our politicians have a hidden agenda of a binational state,” he accused. “This confuses the Arabs. When Israeli politicians turn into our enemies' advisors and we remain silent we confuse them,” he said, in an apparent reference to Ra'am-Ta'al's Ahmed Tibi, who was Yasser Arafat's advisor before running for Knesset.
He also took jabs at statements made by outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, without mentioning their names: “We need leadership that doesn't say 'we are tired of fighting wars.' The nation is not tired and the army is not tired. If the leadership is tired it should be changed. As for another statement, that the state of Israel is finished if we do not return to the 1967 borders: time works in favor of whoever makes good use of it,” Ya'alon stated.