The resumption of the peace process with the Palestinians is contributing significantly to Israel’s international standing, but its failure would bolster the anti-Israel boycott movement and deepen the country's international isolation, National Security Adviser Ya’akov Amidror said on Sunday at a cabinet meeting.
Amidror was presenting his final assessment before ending his term. He discussed the peace process with the Palestinians, the Iranian nuclear program, the civil war in Syria, the instability in Egypt and the United States' global standing, among other subjects.
He cited as an example the decision by the European Union several months ago to forbid any EU grants, loans or prizes to activities of Israeli entities in the West Bank, Golan Heights, or East Jerusalem. The EU's move, which he described as “a type of an economic boycott,” has to be taken seriously by Israel, which must make it clear to the Europeans that they have an interest in continuing economic and scientific cooperation.
Amidror, who has served as the national security adviser for the past two and a half years, has become the most powerful figure in Israel’s political-security establishment and one of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closest aides. He presented the ministers with an evaluation that some of those present said was “sincere and realistic.” He spoke of threats, as well as opportunities; possibilities as well as risks.
According to sources who were briefed on Amidror's presentation, the adviser said that maintaining an Israeli military threat and tough sanctions are crucial to stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons.
He asserted that there has been a change in Iran's willingness to negotiate with the West, but this change was due primarily to the pressure imposed by the international sanctions. Still, the Iranians has not changed their policy on enriching uranium, he said.
“This is exactly why it’s important to maintain sanctions,” said Amidror. “Only maintaining the sanctions along with a credible threat of a strike will persuade Iran to make progress in negotiations with the West.”
Israel must set a high bar with regard to any arrangement between Iran and the West and ignore international criticism, he said. He stressed that if it is “clear to the world that we have a real ability to carry out a military operation in Iran,” the international community will not be able to ignore Israel’s demands.
Regarding Syria, Amidror said the Assad regime has developed an extreme dependence on Hezbollah in the war against the country's rebels.
This dependence leads Syria to transfer more advanced and lethal weapons to Hezbollah, he added.
On Egypt he voiced an optimistic note, saying the Egyptian military had succeeded in curbing the "might of the Islamic wave," thus sending a message to other countries in the region. He added that the developments in Egypt have significantly weakened Hamas in Gaza.
Amidror said the world looks at Israel as an extension of the United States, so if America’s standing in the world weakens, it would have an immediate negative impact on Israel's international position.
He also touched on the nuclear, chemical and biological weapons that Israel possesses according to foreign reports. While Syria’s dismantling of its chemical weapons is a positive development, it poses a worrisome challenge for Israel, which could find itself on the defensive against a host of international organizations that will demand it come clean about unconventional weapons it allegedly has.