Former Israeli Army Chief Gen. Yaalon: Land For Peace Won’t Work
July 6, 2007

Israeli concessions will increase danger

The former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon, has said that the concept of land for peace has proven a failure in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that any future IDF withdrawal from the West Bank will create a second “Hamastan” which would threaten both Israel and Jordan. General Yaalon made his comments this week in an address organized by the Shalem Center, a Jerusalem research institute, on the consequences of the Hamas seizure of Gaza last month.

General Yaalon said Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip and the creation of “the first jihadist Arab entity” on Israel’s doorstep was “the last nail in the coffin” in a string of faulty conceptions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that had characterized Israeli and Western policy for decades. Yaalon said that these faulty conceptions included the beliefs that the Palestinians want – or were able – to establish an independent state within the pre-1967 armistice lines; that the creation of two states within those boundaries would solve the conflict; that land-for-peace was the basis for any peace agreement; that peace would bring security, and that the key to stability in the Middle East was the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yaalon said regional stability was not dependent on the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as many Western leaders argue, but on the defeat of jihadism, led by the Iranian regime (Jerusalem Post, July 4).

General Yaalon has previously warned that the land-for-peace paradigm is irrelevant as there is no genuine Palestinian peace partner and that he opposes the creation of a Palestinian Arab state. In a May 2007 interview, Yaalon said that that former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s Gaza/northern Samaria withdrawal, in which 10,000 Israeli Jews were forced from their homes, was responsible for the failures of last year’s Lebanon War. He warned that if the situation in Gaza deteriorates further, there will be an escalation of hostilities with Hizballah on the border with Lebanon. He also firmly rejected the idea of developing an anti-Qassem rocket defense system for the western Negev, saying that such defense systems do not work and are not an adequate answer for the incessant barrage of rockets being fired into Israel by Palestinian Arab terrorists in Gaza. Instead, Yaalon strongly advocated that the IDF launch a massive incursion into Gaza in order to cleanse the land of the rocket threat, saying, “The problem in Gaza will not solve itself and no one will solve it for us. It requires us to reach the terrorists and the areas in which they operate, and strike at the industry of terror. We did this during Operation Defensive Shield, and before that operation we were unsure about whether to proceed. Today, you must be blind not to realize the necessity of entering Gaza” (Haaretz , May 26).

Excerpts from General Yaalon’s recent speech:

  • The strengthening of Hamas after the Israeli pullout from Gaza and the Hamas takeover of Gaza necessitate a renewed examination of Israeli and international conceptions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that, to my mind, are no longer relevant.”

  • “We are talking about [a Palestinian Authority which is] a gang authority and not a political authority.”

  • “Any Israeli concession will not only not reduce the threat, but will increase it …The result of Israeli concessions today will hurt not only Israel’s interests and those of the West, but those of moderate Arab regimes in the region.”

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The ZOA strongly supports former IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Yaalon’s position that the land-for-peace formula is a dangerous illusion. Until the Israeli government recognizes that Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah are not moderate, peace-loving alternatives to Hamas, Israel will continue to embrace policies that further erode Israel’s security while the dangers to Jewish lives mount. We also strongly believe that General Yaalon is correct to urge the Israeli government to take much stronger action against the PA than it has untill now. In fact, General Yaalon previously stated that he recommended such strong action after the first rocket attack was launched following the 2005 Gaza withdrawal.

“The ZOA has urged repeatedly that Israel undertake a major military operation in Gaza to deal with the consolidation of terrorist groups there and to stop the rocket attacks. We have particularly urged the retaking of the Philadelphi Corridor , along the Gaza/Egypt border, as the only effective means for Israel to end the smuggling of offensive weaponry into Gaza. Instead, we have seen only piecemeal, ineffective artillery barrages and occasional responses which neither destroy the terrorists nor deter them from carrying out further attacks. The PA under Hamas and Mahmoud Abbas must be sent a clear message that there are severe consequences that will come with further attempts to murder Israelis and import the offensive weaponry into Gaza in order to do so.”

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