New York – The former Israel Defense Forces (DF) Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Moshe Moshe Yaalon, told the Herzliya Conference on Sunday that since Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria, Gaza has turned into “Hamastan, Hizbullahstan and al-Qaedastan …Israel failed to create reliable deterrence for the future. The Arabs’ refusal to recognize Israel is the source of all the violence directed against it from the dawn of Zionism to this day … [even] the 1967 borders do not provide an answer to the threat of rocket attacks and suicide bombing attacks, nor do they provide an answer to the threat of conventional attacks” (Ynet, Jan. 23).
Excerpts from General Yaalon’s address:
On the Gaza withdrawal:
* Gaza has turned into “Hamastan, Hizbullahstan and al-Qaedastan … Israel’s unilateral withdrawals were perceived as escape from the rocket threat. Israel failed to create reliable deterrence for the future.”
On the root cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict:
* “The Arabs’ refusal to recognize Israel is the source of all the violence directed against it from the dawn of Zionism to this day. As long as this does not change, Israel will be prone to violence.”
On the pre-June 1967 borders:
* “The 1967 borders do not provide an answer to the threat of rocket and suicide bombing attacks, nor do they provide an answer to the threat of conventional attacks. In order to withstand terror we must remain firm in the belief in the justice of our ways; post and anti-Zionist trends have infiltrated public debate and the decision-making process.”
On Palestinian non-acceptance of Israel:
* “The Palestinians do not recognize our right to live within the 1967 borders. Their decision to wage war in September 2000 was aimed at dodging the need to recognize Israel as a sovereign state.”
On the dangers of unilaterally setting Israel’s borders:
* “As long as there is no acceptance of our right to exist, the Israeli leadership should assume any determined border will be challenged by violent acts, unless there is deterrence. The more vulnerable we appear, the bigger the temptation is to attack us.”
Yaalon has warned also previously about the dangers of the Gaza/northern Samaria withdrawal and dealing with Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority (PA):
* “We thought, and I was one of them, that Mahmoud Abbas will lead the Palestinian Authority in another direction than Yasser Arafat … I haven’t seen leadership on the Palestinian side that is ready for a two-state solution … [Abbas] appears as weak. He is not so weak … He uses weakness as an excuse” not to take necessary steps like dismantling terrorist groups within the PA, preferring “to keep them in power as a tool … do not underestimate the Palestinian threat” (Israel Insider, November 5, 2005).
* “There will be an eruption. Terrorist attacks of all types: shooting, bombs, suicide bombers, mortars, Qassam rockets … there is a high probability of a second war of terror which will begin in the West Bank … The disengagement will not create a situation of stability. Therefore, I do not rule out the possibility that the Army will return to the Gaza Strip at some point … the establishment of a Palestinian state would lead to war, and such a war could be dangerous for Israel. The idea that a Palestinian state can be established by 2008, and will then produce stability is divorced from reality and dangerous and will be a state that will try to undermine Israel … When the PA permits Hamas to take part in the elections without abandoning its firearms, is that democracy? Its gang, armed gangs playing at pretend democracy. If Fatah continues to behave as it does now, Hamas will eventually take over the Gaza Strip … A two-state solution is simply not relevant. It is a story that the western world tells with western eyes. And that story does not comprehend the scale of the gap and the scale of the problem. We, in Israel, are also sweeping it under the rug.” (Haaretz, June 1, 2005).
* “I fear that the Gaza disengagement plan will blow up in our faces” (Addressing Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, Jerusalem,. February 18, 2005).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “General Yaalon has warned with great consistency and detail about the erosion of Israeli deterrent power and the increase in the danger to the lives of Israelis stemming form a policy of unilateral withdrawals and refusal to recognize Palestinian non-acceptance of Israel. Unfortunately, events have shown that Yaalon is correct — as the ZOA has pointed out on earlier occasions, there has been a huge increase in rocket attacks upon Israel from Gaza, a massive increase in offensive weaponry being brought into Gaza, now that Israel no longer controls the Gaza-Egypt border, and more and more cities and towns within Israel are in danger of attack. As Caroline Glick warned in December when addressing the ZOA National Dinner in New York, there is a grave danger in Israel failing to recognize that it cannot simply make its own borders and pretend that the Palestinians will cease to attack it.
“We strongly urge both the Israeli and US governments to recognize the correctness of General Yaalon’s remarks and to cease basing policy on the belief that unilateral concessions can purchase peace and security. Only yesterday, President Bush said ’ Israel is our ally. We’re committed to the safety of Israel, and it’s a commitment we will keep.’ The President was speaking about the threat to Israel from Iran, but to be truly committed to Israel’s security, it is important, as Yaalon warned last November, not to concentrate solely on Iran, saying ‘do not underestimate the Palestinian threat.’ The ZOA hopes that General Yaalon’s words will be heeded.”