U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who has embarked on a round of shuttle diplomacy in the region with the goal of advancing a two-state solution, ought to know the following: He doesn’t have a partner in the Israeli Defense Ministry.
During his meeting last week with President Shimon Peres, Kerry said, “We all know it’s not easy but as you said yourself it can be done. It has been expressed by your leaders and others for years that people believe in the possibility of the two-state solution. I am convinced there is a road forward ... and I look forward to the discussions with your leaders.”
If Kerry seriously intends to discuss a two-state solution with Israeli leaders, he would do best to skip the leader that sits in the Defense Ministry. Not only does Moshe ‘Bogey’ Ya’alon not believe in an agreement with the Palestinians, but he is convinced that “In the current generation, and perhaps even the current century, it is impossible to divide the western Land of Israel into two nation-states − Jewish and Palestinian − that will live in peace with each other on either side of the June 4, 1967 border.”
Somebody ought to translate and show the secretary of state selected passages from Ya’alon’s 2008 Hebrew-language book, “The Long Shortcut,” from which the above quote is taken, so that he will understand that on the Palestinian issue, he has no one to talk to and nothing to talk about in the Defense Ministry compound in Tel Aviv.
Ya’alon believes the PLO has never abandoned its “Phased Plan” for Israel’s destruction. It’s clear to him that not only did former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat intend to deceive Israel, but so do his heirs. “There is no Palestinian leadership today that truly intends [to bring about] a two-state solution; rather, [it intends] to establish an Arab entity in place of, and on the ruins of, the State of Israel,” he wrote in his book.
Ya’alon is very concerned by the condition of Israeli society, which has developed a defeatist attitude based on “some kind of very deep-rooted pathology of the victim who identifies with the aggressor, some kind of sick tendency to say ‘apparently, we deserve it,’ ‘apparently, there’s something wrong with us’ ... This is another outbreak of something that apparently lies in our genetic code.”
And it’s clear to him who is leading Israeli society in this dangerous direction: “Looking back at the way Israel has conducted itself over the last decade − and perhaps even the last several decades − it is possible to state beyond a doubt that three power groups − the wealthy, the media and the activist legal establishment − have made it hard for the leadership of the state to cope appropriately with the threats facing it.”
Israelis, in Ya’alon’s view, don’t understand that the only way to deal with the Palestinians is to hit them again and again, to strengthen Israel’s deterrence and “sear their consciousness.” Therefore, when the second intifada erupted, “I understood that we had reached the moment of truth ... Therefore, the war that began in 2000 was an existential challenge, but also a historic opportunity. It enabled us to effect a strategic reversal, to prove our strength and our stamina, to renew our deterrent power.” After all, “It’s clear that whether or not a [diplomatic] agreement is reached, they will continue to attack us as long as they can, and as long as they believe that violence pays.”
Granted, a few years have passed since Ya’alon wrote this book, but his entry into the cabinet doesn’t seem to have changed his views. What you see from there, he would doubtless say, you see even better from here.
Just three months ago, he gave a lecture in which he once again made it clear that he opposes establishing a Palestinian state. “There’s an entity in Gaza that, as far as I’m concerned, can call itself the United Islamic Republic,” he said. “The Palestinian Authority, as far as I’m concerned, can call itself the Palestinian Empire ... The goals of PA chairman Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] are identical to those of Hamas.”
So, Kerry, don’t pin your hopes on Ya’alon.