[Freemanlist2] Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad,Updating Israel’s Security Policy

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Updating Israel’s Security Policy

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, May 21, 2012
JCPA Vol. 12, No. 11 21 May 2012
http://jcpa.org/article/updating-israels-security-policy/

-Israel is living in a most convenient period of time from a security 
standpoint. Suicide attacks are behind us and there is deterrence against 
rocket attacks. At the same time there are unprecedented challenges to our 
national security including the possibility of a nuclear Iran or even a 
nuclear Middle East

-Iran’s capabilities for developing nuclear weapons are no longer a 
question. They only have to make the decision. They have the know-how to 
assemble nuclear warheads on missiles if they want to. Today there is a 
consensus among the world’s intelligence agencies: Iran is a threat.

-I cannot imagine Saudi Arabia, Egypt, or any of the other Arab countries 
tolerating a nuclear Iran. There is an Arabic word, “ajami,” which expresses 
disgust of the Persians. If you ask any Arab leader about the greatest 
threat, he will say Iran – not Israel – but not publicly.

-The terrorists in Sinai are financed by Iran and they want to murder as 
many Israelis as they can. If there is terror from Sinai, this complicates 
Israel’s relationship with Egypt, which is why we choose to preemptively 
kill the terrorists.

-The Iranians and the Turks have a 1,000-year-old tradition of rivalry. I 
cannot believe that the Turks believe there is room for friendship with 
Iran. If Iran goes nuclear, the Turks will be very upset.

-There are political contacts all the time between Israel and the PA. But 
even if we sign an agreement tomorrow, it cannot be implemented as long as 
there is a division between Hamas and the PA. If we only sign with Abbas or 
his colleagues, it would just be a treaty between Israel and Ramallah, and 
no Palestinian would agree to this.

The Vital Role of Jordan

>From a security perspective, the current period is a most convenient one for 
Israel. We are not suffering from terror, after long years of being 
attacked. This achievement is based on the unique intelligence capabilities 
that we have developed, combined with the operational capabilities of the 
IDF and state-of-the-art security in Jordan. I would like to thank Jordan, 
even though they are not doing it for us but for their own interests. Jordan’s 
state-of-the-art security is protecting a very complicated border. The 
outcome, from the Israeli point of view, is a dramatic contribution to our 
security. It is very difficult for terrorists to cross the Jordanian border, 
and we enjoy the benefits.

Coordination with the Palestinian Authority

There is security coordination, but not cooperation, between Israel and the 
Palestinian Authority. It is less significant than our own capabilities or 
those of Jordan, but it is quite significant. It is based on the interest of 
the Palestinian Authority to defeat its enemies, such as Hamas. While there 
is talk of reconciliation between them, this is difficult to imagine since 
Hamas wants to take over the PLO. The PLO holds the golden shares of 
Palestinian nationalism, and the PA is a product of agreements between the 
PLO and Israel. At the moment, Hamas, which is a part of the Muslim 
Brotherhood, is seeking to take over both the PA and the PLO. For the time 
being, the PA is quite important from a security point of view, even though 
there has been a decline in the quality of its security performance.

There are political contacts all the time between Israel and the PA. But 
even if we sign an agreement tomorrow, it cannot be implemented as long as 
there is a division between Hamas and the PA. If we only sign with Abbas or 
his colleagues, it would just be a treaty between Israel and Ramallah, and 
no Palestinian would agree to this. Israel is committed to a two-state 
solution and will do its best to resume negotiations with the Palestinians. 
We are also talking with Jordan, which has hosted the talks in Amman. But I 
am not offering an optimistic message that tomorrow a peace agreement will 
be signed.

The Palestinians in Gaza possess rockets that are growing in number, quality 
and range. They may be deterred from an immediate attack against us, but 
there is no fundamental solution. They are anti-Israeli, both religiously 
and nationally. They are very violent and believe in using terror. They are 
doing their best to attack Israel, but they fail again and again because it 
is almost impossible to send terrorist groups directly to Israel from Gaza. 
Depending on Egypt, on diplomacy, or on our technology to protect us from 
Gaza rockets is not a fundamental solution. It is an interim solution for an 
immediate problem.

Along Israel’s Borders

Other good news is that Israel does have deterrence vis-à-vis the threats 
around us. The north is flourishing. The Golan Heights is very stable and 
quiet. In the south, we are enjoying partial deterrence. When violence does 
erupt, Egypt has been successful in convincing Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the 
others to maintain the quiet because it is clear that if these groups 
continue to attack us, Egypt could suffer from Israel’s operations. So what 
Egypt is doing is for its own interests.

I would not describe our relations with Egypt as coordination. I prefer to 
say that it is in the Egyptian interest to keep stability and quiet. Without 
Egypt, I cannot imagine there would be any reality of peace on Israel’s 
southern front. They are the only ones who can convince the extremists to 
remain quiet. The Egyptian security establishment is efficient and 
professional.

The leader of any peace option is Egypt. Even a cold peace is better than 
any war. This is a pillar of our national security. In our country, the best 
option is to use the army only if you do not have another option.

The Threat to Israel from Iran

Israel’s identification of the Iranian nuclear threat was a great 
intelligence achievement. We identified the threat of a nuclear Iran in the 
mid-1990s, when Iran did not have a single missile that could reach Israel. 
Iran’s capabilities for developing nuclear weapons are no longer a question. 
They only have to make the decision. They have 5.5 tons of low-enriched 
uranium. They have hundreds of Shahab-3 missiles which can travel 1,500 km., 
and they have missiles with a range of 2,200 km. Their ambition is to become 
the regional superpower. They have the know-how to assemble nuclear warheads 
on missiles if they want to.

They have not yet crossed the Rubicon. Khamenei, who is the leader, not 
Ahmadinejad, relies on the brutal force of the Revolutionary Guard. Whenever 
he finds it appropriate, he is determined to develop the option to decide to 
develop nuclear weapons. He has not done so yet because he is shocked by the 
magnitude of exposure of these secret projects. For example, two years ago 
at the United Nations, the president of the United States exposed the 
existence of a top-secret project near Qom, and the Iranians were shocked. 
For a long time the world did not recognize the nature of this threat, but 
now there is a consensus among the world’s intelligence agencies: Iran is a 
threat.

There is no current existential threat to Israel, but a nuclear Iran has the 
potential of creating such a threat when they get the bomb. If Ahmadinejad 
and Khamenei keep saying that Israel does not have the right to exist, then 
with nuclear capability it becomes serious. Without nuclear weapons, it 
remains just a statement. Iran without nuclear capability is a terrible 
threat but not an existential one. At the moment, they are using terror and 
we are suffering from it. The main issue today is how to prevent a nuclear 
Iran.

For the first time I see significant sanctions, but everything depends on 
the result – if they decide to pull back from the nuclear project. But even 
if they withdraw from the project, the know-how remains. In 2003, based on 
the perception that there was an existential threat, Iran froze the project.

Today in Lebanon, Hizbullah, which murdered former Lebanese prime minister 
Hariri, is a partner in the coalition government. The names of the murderers 
are known to everybody, including to the Lebanese police. But the president 
is not ordering the police to arrest the number two official in Hizbullah, 
who is responsible for the murder. Most importantly, from Israel’s 
perspective, Hizbullah has taken over half of Lebanon. Hizbullahstan is much 
more powerful militarily, or even politically, than Lebanon itself, heavily 
financed by Iran and Syria. They have at least 45,000 rockets, compared with 
14,000 in 2006 at the time of the Second Lebanon War. There is also Iranian 
terror all over the world, with Iranians whose base is in Lebanon.

I cannot imagine Saudi Arabia, Egypt, or any of the other Arab countries 
tolerating a nuclear Iran. There is an Arabic word, “ajami,” which expresses 
disgust of the Persians. A nuclear Iran will destroy the stability of the 
Middle East and threaten the best interests of the world. If you ask any 
Arab leader about the greatest threat, he will say Iran – not Israel – but 
not publicly.

Concerned about Egypt

Israel is concerned about the dramatic changes in Egypt. There is no 
alternative to peaceful relations between us and Egypt, and the leaders of 
the Muslim Brotherhood have declared that they are committed to peace, but I 
am not sure. Their ideology is different. Their dream is to establish an 
Islamic empire at the expense of Egypt, Jordan, and Abbas’ Palestinian 
Authority. Israel is excluded by definition since this is considered holy 
waqf land.

The new Muslim Brotherhood-dominated parliament in Cairo has repeatedly 
voted against relations with Israel. The Egyptians may declare they are 
committed to peace, but they find excuses to undermine it. The Muslim 
Brotherhood has visited Gaza, but mainly they are focusing on the political 
process in Egypt, including elections and the new constitution. As of July, 
there is to be a new president.

Israel is also concerned about Sinai, where we fully rely on the Egyptian 
government and army to overcome all kinds of threats, including smuggling. 
In order to preempt acts of terror, such as occurred last year, we are 
relying on our intelligence. The terrorists in Sinai are financed by Iran 
and they want to murder as many Israelis as they can. If there is terror 
from Sinai, this complicates Israel’s relationship with Egypt, which is why 
we choose to preemptively kill the terrorists. To do this you need to have 
accurate and excellent intelligence all the time.

Syria Slaughters Its People

Of course Israel denounces the Syrian government’s slaughter of its people. 
Assad is an Alawite, and he is slaughtering his opponents. He will continue 
until he is defeated. For Israel, the Golan Heights is very quiet and stable 
because the Syrians are busy with their own problems. There are concerns 
about the fate of the strategic weapons that exist in Syria. For the time 
being they are secure, but we need to be on alert.

A Changed Turkey

Both Turkey and Iran used to be our best friends. We are doing our best to 
ease the tension between us and Turkey, but it is quite a challenge to 
digest and understand the changes that have occurred in Turkey. We do not 
like the way Turkey is cooperating with Iran from time to time, but the 
Iranians and the Turks have a 1,000-year-old tradition of rivalry. I cannot 
believe that the Turks believe there is room for friendship with Iran. If 
Iran goes nuclear, the Turks will be very upset.

Excellent Dialogue with the U.S., China, and Russia

Israel’s security relations with the United States are excellent and very 
valuable and qualitative – psychologically, militarily, and strategically.

Israel’s relations with China are excellent. Israeli Minister of Defense 
Ehud Barak paid a four-day visit there. The Chinese chief-of-staff, with 
almost 20 generals, has visited Israel, and our prime minister may visit 
China soon. I am encouraged by China’s deep appreciation of Israel, which is 
important both psychologically and economically. Israel has nominated a 
cabinet minister to be the next ambassador in China, officially reflecting 
an Israeli policy to enhance relations. At the same time, Israel has 
commitments to the United States regarding some areas of cooperation with 
China, and we are fully committed to them.

Putin of Russia was in Israel and expressed a deep commitment to our 
national security. They consider the one million Russian Jews in Israel as 
very important to Russia. However, the Russians are supplying weapons to 
Syria, including a supersonic missile against ships and other strategic 
targets. We have requested that they not supply such weapons because they 
will fall into the hands of Hizbullah.

All together, there is a paradox here. Israel is living in one of the most 
convenient periods of time from a security standpoint. Suicide attacks are 
behind us and there is deterrence against rocket attacks. At the same time 
there are unprecedented challenges to our national security including the 
possibility of a nuclear Iran or even a nuclear Middle East, and we need to 
be prepared for a wide range of developments.

* * *

This Jerusalem Issue Brief is based on a presentation by Maj.-Gen. (res.) 
Amos Gilad at the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center 
for Public Affairs on April 3, 2012.

Publication: Jerusalem Issue Briefs

Filed Under: Egypt, IDF, Iran, Israel, Israeli Security, Syria, The 
Middle East, Turkey

Tags: Iran, Security, Sinai, Turkey

About Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad is Director of Policy and Political-Military 
Affairs at the Israel Ministry of Defense. Gen. Gilad has also served as the 
Defense Ministry's Coordinator for the Administered Territories, Director of 
the Research Division of the IDF's Intelligence Branch, and as the IDF 
Spokesman 

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