Top Defense Official: Israel Faces Isolation 'No Less Severe Than War'

In remarks made behind closed doors, Amos Gilad warns that ongoing freeze in the peace process could yield third Intifada as Palestinians prepare to ask UN for recognition of statehood in September.

The chief of Israel's diplomatic-security bureau warned this week that Israel faced an isolation "no less severe than war" should the United Nations recognize Palestine as an independent state this September.

In remarks carried by Channel 10, General (res.) Amos Gilad said behind doors that the Palestinian Authority leadership was organizing an "international assault against Israel".

Palestinian protest March 15, 2011.

The Palestinians have warned that if peace talks with Israel do not resume by the deadline set for December, they will ask the UN general assembly to recognize their sovereign state.

"Israel's isolation in September, the beginning of the isolation, will be no less severe than war," Gilad told participants in a private session.

The central issue facing Netanyahu come September was whether Israel should enter "a partnership for peace [with the Palestinians] and spare itself international pressure or go head to head with them," said Gilad, hinting that the ongoing freeze in the peace process was likely to bring about a third Intifada.

"If you don't enter negotiations, you gain stability, but also international isolation," said Gilad. "The isolation will legitimize the clashes that could erupt from a coincidental event or incident that with Twitter and Facebook could spark an entire fire."

Gilad's remarks were similar to those made by Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently in an address to the National Security Institute in Tel Aviv. Barak warned then that a "diplomatic tsunami" would wash over Israel should the world recognize a Palestinian state according to 1967 borders in September.

Barak emphasized in that address that Israel must develop its own political initiative to end the conflict in order to prevent disaster.