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Inside Israel: Yadlin’s Cautious Optimism

Eliezer Shulman

Former IDF chief of military intelligence Amos Yadlin dissects the danger on the northern front

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

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Yadlin’s Cautious Optimism
There aren’t many people today with the range of experience of Major General (res.) Amos Yadlin, director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) and a former chief of military intelligence for the Israel Defense Forces. Observing the protests on the streets of Iran and the developments on the Syrian-Israeli border, Yadlin is concerned about the future.

“There’s a much greater chance of a conflagration in the north in 2018 than last year,” he says. “The Iranians are trying to create a Shi’ite power base to attack Israel from Syria, and Israel has made clear that this won’t be tolerated. There’s clearly potential here for conflict.” Yadlin says Israel must halt the Iranian advance while at the same time trying to prevent a wider war.

But if a conflict erupts, he says, he’s confident in Israel’s strategic position. “The military is strong, the enemy is deterred, and they’re busy fighting one another. That trend gathered momentum in 2017 with the election of Trump, who accepts the Israeli narrative more than the Palestinian one. Moreover, we have a merging of interests with the Saudis and Gulf states, who consider Iran a threat no less than we do.”

Indeed, Yadlin considers the peace process a catalyst that would help Israel counter Iran region-wide. “We at the INSS recommend moving ahead with the Palestinian issue. We see that as the key to cooperation — open, not under the table — with the Arab world on the Iranian issue. It’s the only way to create a unified Saudi-Israeli-American anti-Iranian front that will be a lot more assertive and vocal. This is an opportunity — the Saudis and Gulf states can pressure the Palestinians to compromise. If the Palestinians stick to their position, there’s no way we’ll ever be able to compromise on anything.”

As Rockets Rain
Rockets have rained down on Israel’s south for more than a month now — 50 since President Trump’s December 6 statement on Jerusalem. Though none have caused any serious damage, Israel is likely operating on borrowed time. With each new rocket, the possibility increases that there will be a tragedy, and a trigger to war.

Still, Avigdor Lieberman, who has held the post of defense minister for the past year and a half, told Mishpacha in an interview that the residents of the south “have never been so satisfied.” Despite the psychological terror of running to bomb shelters every few days, Lieberman claims that the south is the safest it’s been in years.

“I’m not a pragmatic defense minister,” he said, “I’m a determined one. This last year and a half have been the safest in the area surrounding Gaza, in terms of people hurt, infiltrations, and rocket and mortar fire.” Talking up his experience, Lieberman says “there’s no one other than the prime minister who has as much accumulated experience as I have. I know what to do and when to do it.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 693) 

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