Israeli Defense Minister: Europe Must Place Security Needs Over Human Rights

Speaking on Army Radio, Moshe Ya'alon says the post-9/11 shift in balance in favor of security vs. human rights seen in the U.S. is now likely to occur in Europe.

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Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon.Credit: Ofer Vaknin

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Sunday that he expects a shift in policy in Europe when it comes to the balance between security concerns and protecting human rights following the wave of terrorist attacks in Paris over the weekend. European countries, including France, will need to carry out wiretapping of civilians, tighten passport controls and post guards at the entrances to public places, he added.

"In the United States until the events of September 11, [2001], the balance between security and human rights favored human rights on the issue, for example of eavesdropping on potential terrorists," he said on Army Radio. "In France and other countries in Europe, that hasn't yet happened," he said. "Countries fighting terrorism have no alternative in this other than shifting in the direction of security. I assume that we will see a large number of steps [to carry out] inspections: passport inspections, inspections at the entrance to public places."

Up to now, France has not carried out wiretapping of telephone conversations of its citizens, Ya'alon said, but he predicted that is likely to change there and elsewhere in Europe. "We as a democracy are experienced in fighting terrorism, used to it. The Western democracies in Europe will apparently need to include such steps in their countries too to defend themselves."

France might also pass a law similar to the Patriot Act in the United States, the defense minister said, in order to more effectively fight terrorism, legislation that would allow wiretaps, monitoring of potential lone wolf terrorist suspects and searches of business records. "I've already heard French President [Francois Hollande] comment on the matter," said Ya'alon, whose own comments on Army Radio have also been picked up by the French media.

"They have understood that there is a danger, but there are have been steps that they should have taken previously that have not been taken," he said, in veiled criticism of European policy. And when it comes to European attitudes toward to Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said when European defense ministers visit Israel, there is discussion of ISIS, the Islamic State organization, but "when foreign ministers come, they speak with us about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as if that is the source of all the world's problems."