No More Illusions: Changes in the Middle East

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TIME: 18:15-19:15, Wednesday 20th July 2016

VENUE: Committee Room 3A, House of Lords, Houses of Parliament, London, SW1A 0AA

SPEAKER: Major General Yaacov Amidror, former National Security Advisor to the P.M of Israel and ex-Head of the National Security Council

HOST: Lord Trimble

Chair: Davis Lewin, Henry Jackson Society

Lord Trimble

We have reached the point now where we can just begin, just a minute behind but I am delighted to see so many people here. You are going to hear Major General Yaacov Amidror reflect on the changes in the Middle East and there is no shortage of them these days, but there we are. The general was a former national security advisor to Prime Minister Netanyahu from 2011-2013 before that he was with the Israeli defence forces for 36 years and has published 3 books. As I have said he is going to give us his reflections on the present situation under the title ‘no more illusions’, Major Gen over to you.

Major General Yaacov Amidror

Thank you very much, thank you for your hospitality, can I take my jacket off?

Lord Trimble

Of course

Major General Yaacov Amidror

I didn’t know if I was able to briefing in Parliament in the House of Lords! Thank you for the opportunity. I want to begin with some description of the Middle East and why I think that some of the regions cannot be alive anymore in the area we understand and these are illusions which cannot survive in the new situation. To better the cause we need to change our attitude towards what should be done.

I want to begin with something which is out of the Middle East, two different issues. One is the illusion that America will be there to save the situation as in the last 100 years, it is an illusion it is not going to happen anymore. In a very extreme situation maybe but in the real life of the Middle East and it is very interesting to see how the Arab countries begin to understand it and they are looking for either angles of stabilisation and solutions because they understand if Americans will not be there like the last 100 years. It will be but not in the same way. The Arabs are very reluctant to go through wars again like they have in Iraq and Afghanistan. So the first illusion is about America. America is not going to take the same responsibility that they took in the past and there is no substitute to the Americans around the world. All the new countries which emerge and new economies and some of them might be bigger than Americas within 15 years, none of them is a substitute to the Americans. The Middle East will have to live without the Americans as the force which is making it group for the others in the Middle East.

The second illusion is that okay maybe the Americans are out but the international community, the national systems, United Nations, International Court and so on and so forth, they will take the responsibility and the world will be more led by international systems – it is not going to happen. It is not a huge success as the European Union show and it is not a huge success in the United Nations which in a way became a joke because it is hostage to a group of countries like the Muslim countries or the Americans and Russians neutralise each other and you can see half a million people killed in Syria and no-one is doing anything to save those people and help the refugees outside Syria and inside Syria. The international community failed to give any solution to the problem. If there is any chance for international solutions or international organisations or structures to solve problems they failed in the test of Syria and the truth is there is no chance that they would succeed in other areas. So it is not Americans, it is not international community and these two illusions are very strong illusions that should be forgotten, we have to do the job by ourselves in the Middle East.

The third illusion which is very profound is from London, is that there is one big problem in the Middle East and solved the Middle East would be much better and this is the Palestinian conflict. Solve this problem and the Middle East will be much better. As you see it is not relevant to all the problems which the Middle East is facing. It is important for us, it is important to the Palestinians it should be solved but there is not any influence on any real problem in the Middle East. The earlier that people understand that this is an illusion which is not connected to the reality of the Middle East the better because the fact that people think that this is the most important in the Middle East, it is much complicated to solve because it is the most important one, the price to be paid to the Palestinians to agree to negotiate would be very high if this is the one you chose in the Middle East. It is an illusion nothing will be changed in the Middle East because of this – nothing in Lebanon, or in Libya or in Yemen or in Syria or in Iraq or in Egypt or in Saudi Arabia, none.

The fourth illusion is that the Arab Spring is something like the 30 years’ war in Europe in the 17th century and immediately afterwards it will be much better because the agreement is around the corner. It is not. It is much more profound, it will take generations to change, the Middle East is doomed to be in a inaudible state for I don’t know how many years. More important we are retreating from the conditions which brought the agreement. The two issues in the borders are the lines which you don’t cross and religion is out of the equation, what is happening in the Middle East is totally different. Borders are disappearing and religions have become more important in the Middle East. So even at the end of the process we should not expect to become something like Europe is today. It will be much longer, much more problematic, with less abilities to change it like to the EU and at the end of the day it is a huge illusion to think that the Middle East is going to be like Europe. In the past there have been changes which we thought would make this a much better place – no. History, religion, culture, many issues this is not going the same way as Europe and it is a huge illusion to think that this is the end result of what will be of the Middle East.

These are the illusions which should be disappeared if we want to understand and act in the Middle East in a rational way. A rational way means that you take into consideration the reality on the ground and not wishful thinking or ideologies and what you believe might happen and God to intervene and save you. Take all these on the ground and try to build something real based on the reality and connected to the real life.

What are the three main problems in the Middle East today – Iran, Israel and the Palestinians and the conflict between them. One it is the decision of Iran after the revolution in 79 to change the situation of the Sheik minority, which is only 15% of the Muslims, oppressed by the Sunnis for many hundreds of years. Almost since Mohammed. The decision of Iran is the crucial one because like the Sunni world and the Sheikh world is a very erratic one. There is one to whom you apply to get decisions and the decision of Iran to lead the Sheikhs means there are Sheikhs all over the Middle East. It is throughout Yemen, throughout Iraq, throughout Syria, throughout Lebanon, throughout the eastern part of Saudi Arabia. Wherever there is friction between Sheikhs and Sunnis they war will continue. In some cases like more organised wars or in Yemen in some cases it is a devastating situation like in Syria. In some cases people understand that it is either the win or they lose everything. Either you win or you lose everything. This is one phenomena which explains many of the wars and the battles from the Mediterranean the East.

The second issue is political Islam versus modernity. This is a phenomena which you can see all over the Middle East. From the West to the East. If you want in one sentence is the slogan of the Muslim Brotherhood ‘Islam is the solution’ vs modernity which includes army systems, not surprising that the armies leading their vote against inaudible because they have the same ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, basically. Universities and police, all the tools of the state which for itself, something which was exported into the Middle East by the West it is not a natural phenomenon in the Middle East. I remember meeting with Egyptian officials towards the end of the previous century. We were in Cairo and we met them and we spoke about the Middle East and they told us something that we didn’t understand, I must admit. They told us in the Middle East in the end there are only really 4 states – Egypt, of course, Iran, Turkey and Israel. I remember my immediate question was ‘What about the other Arab countries?’ because they didn’t mention any other Arab country but Egypt and they said all the others are families with flags, they are not states. We did not understand it but looking back to the Arab Spring maybe they understood the situation better than us and they understood the difference between real states like Egypt or Turkey after the revolution or Egypt after two revolutions. Instead at the end of the day it was something which was an artificial system which had been brought by the West into the Middle East. The deep issue here is the understanding of so many people that Islam is the solution and those who think that modernity brings states and what you see today in more and more and more places the centre of gravity moved from the state tools to all the old forces which had been oppressed by the state. The family, the tribe, the religion and this big fight between modernity which is represented by the state and its tools. The fundamental Islam which in some cases wants to take us back to the 7th century, ISIS is an extreme example, but it is the same phenomena, Islam is the solution but the question is which Islam? ISIS is ready to kill the Muslim Brotherhood because it is not all the same Islam. Islam is the solution they all agree but they don’t agree which Islam, which kind of Islam, which version of Islam. It is all over – it is through Turkey, it is through Egypt, it is through Indonesia, it is through in Iran, in Saudi Arabia, in some cases it is going together with the friction from the Sheikhs, in some cases by itself a problem, Egypt is a good example no Sheikhs at all.

The third one is dysfunctionality of the Arab states, there is not even one Arab state which succeeded to deliver. I was told by the Kuwaiti scorer that the reason for the Arab Spring is losing of dignity by the Arab people. I say what you mean, he said that there was a huge gap between the readiness of the average citizen to live under dictatorship and to take into consideration that the intelligence is the main factor in his life and the fact is at the end of the day they didn’t deliver. They said we are ready to lead the oppression of the dictatorship, we are not ready to leave under the pressure of the dictatorship without having any hope for the future and jobs for ourselves or food for our families. Look all over the Middle East bar the rich countries in the Gulf which can give money to everything, all the others they didn’t succeed, the system didn’t uphold. They said don’t talk even in the Gulf countries but there is enough money to compensate it. This is why you see Saudi today talking today about 2030 to change the whole economy with prices of less than 50 dollars per barrel are in a very big problem because the system doesn’t function. There is not enough money to substitute the in-functionality of the system.

So what we see today is the result of all the three phenomena’s. In some places it is merged together, in some places it is one or two of them but these are phenomenon’s which are all over the Middle East and combine together in some cases and change the Middle East dramatically. I don’t see any solution to each of the problems and for sure not for all of them together. This is why I am very pessimistic about the duration of this turmoil situation in the Middle East because I don’t see anyone bringing a solution to the Sheikh versus Sunni issue. I don’t see anyone who can bring a solution to comprise between the slogan of Islam and the modernity and I don’t see any solution to the dysfunctionality of those systems. I mean what we have had from Saudi Arabia is that they intend to do something, to say that I really believe that the new king, if he will be the king, can change the structure and the culture, which is more important than the structure, of the society and make the people working and living not because the price of the oil is so high but because they earn the money by law. I am not sure if it is possible, on the contrary I am quite sure that it is impossible. We need to ask ourselves okay, I think this is something that we can agree on if we are Americans, Brits, Russians or Chinese.

Now the Israel perspective, what does it mean for Israel? I think there are three different issues and again I am not touching the Palestinian issue which is important to reserve, I will say some words about it towards the end. One from the threat point of view. Israel is a very little country, 8 million citizens, 26km including the west bank, very little country and for us the change in the Middle East is a huge one. When I was wrong we were surrounded by thousands of tanks, there are many 100s of aeroplanes, millions of soldiers, today what we have to deal with is NGOs. Hamas in the South, Hezbollah in the North, ISIS in the North and in the South but at the end of the day NGOs without the capacity of a state. It is true to Hezbollah’s fire power is today more than all NATO members together excluding USA. It has more than 100’000 rockets and missiles, many of them are very accurate, a huge threat but in the end it is a 50’000 member organisation. Even then if we have to deal with it, it is not endangering the existence of Israel. It is a huge problem, invest now between 5-10 billion dollars to build our active defence systems and Israel would be covered with 3 and a half layers of active defence and 5 years from now a laser layer which would defend the short range missiles and motors. So it is a huge problem we have to invest but it doesn’t endanger the existence of Israel. This is a totally different situation for us, the only danger to the existence of Israel is if Iran nuclear. We don’t like the agreement we think the agreement which was agreed is a bad one, it was legitimised, the Iranians not now but 10 years from now and we will have to prepare ourselves for the situation in which we will have to do the dirty job to stop the Iranians from being nuclear. Remember the Iranians will also earn more time and they will be more resilient and more prepared, so on and so forth. So this is one area that we can say today that the situation is much better.

I gave a lecture in a college in Israel and I looked at the students, young, very smart majors and I told them you know guys, there were two ladies, told them there are two big differences. When I was in the staffing command college there were no ladies at all and the second one we thought how long will it take the seven Iraqi division to be added to the 1000 tanks under Israel and make all the calculations how to stop them. At the end of the day you have to meet with NGOs, that is a huge difference. Second is the whole structure of the Middle East, the Arab states understand that the Americans, the Europeans don’t have the capability, the Americans have the capability but don’t have the will to understand that they have to find substitutes to foreign forces to help them to deal with the problems. I met inaudible 2 months ago in Washington and it was an open session so I can quote and he said with the Israeli money and the Arab mind capabilities we can change the Middle East. Everyone took it for it is only money and the Israeli start up nation but behind there is something very, very deep. They understand the combination between their capabilities and our capabilities can help them to survive. We don’t need them. It is the first time in history that they need us. It is a totally different situation and we have to explore it to find a way how to cooperate with them, it is very important to our interest, it is much more important to their interest.

Here comes the Palestinian issue. The Palestinian issue itself is only between Israel and the Palestinians not the Middle East but because they build a beast called the Palestinian issue today the leaders cannot act openly with Israel. When you meet all the leaders of the Middle East behind closed doors they say clearly it doesn’t matter what will be in the agreement from our point of view it can be anything. What they need is they can say Palestinians need to agree with the Israelis about the solution of the problem, now we can cooperate with the Israelis. By the way King Abdallah saying it before the agreement with the Palestinians, the Arab states with which we don’t have former relations are doing it practically but not on the table, under the table. They have to and I don’t blame them, like I said they have to survive and the street is very strong in the new Middle East. The street is very strong and they cannot ignore it.

Here is the importance of the Palestinian issue, it is not because it will solve any problem in the Middle East, it will allow us to go into different relations with the Arab states. Here is the problem, the more we are speaking about it and the more it is understood by the Palestinians they say okay we are the key for better relations within the Arab states and Israel, let the Israelis play a high price. So tactically the way to do it I think is a different way, to do something under the umbrella of the Arab and Israeli coordination not in alliance but a very vague umbrella and to bring the Palestinians in. If they lose the ability to stop the process and close the doors, the price will be much easier to pay. This is a tactical issue, the strategy is very clear we should cooperate with the Sunni countries who seek to keep the status quo in the Middle East, they have their own problems, so on and so forth but they are not tied to many illusions about what they are but at least we are sharing the same enemy and we have the same goal, stability, so we can walk and make a long journey together.

Then about Israel itself. It is a huge opportunity for Israel because we are not facing the same threat as which we faced in the past. To continue with Israel domestically and for the GDP of the average state will grow to something much better. From start-up nation built only on high tech to something which is also cyber and biology and so on and so forth. To find solution to some problems which we have inside the deal between those who have an inaudible and those who don’t is too wide. It is not easy to find a solution to because it is an economy led by high tech and by definition, in high tech most of the money is going to very few and not the majority which is not true about tourism for example. Israel should focus more now to solve domestic issues because the threat is such that we can deal with and because we have a huge opportunity with the Arab c curve of status quo in the Sunni countries, Israel is the only non-Arab Sunni state, because it is the rise of Sunni states and Israel. To be very sensitive to the changes which occur around us and the threat which might emerge, when I say NGOs are not classically military forces there is one problematic because of if State wants to go to war she has to prepare herself, it takes days, weeks, months it does not occur from one morning to another. When it is an organisation the regime can happen within hours. We did something wrong, they did something wrong, we answer them, they answer us and after the chair is the table and after the table throw the whole thing out of the window and you are in at least an operation, if not a war. So this is a volatile area that we have to protect ourselves very tense in our preparations. But other than that this is a huge opportunity for Israel to focus on domestic issues and to be much better in the future.

I have a 99 and a half year old mother and we speak every second day, I visit her to see that everything is okay. When I speak with her she says I don’t understand why so many Israelis complain, I remember myself 8 years ago the situation was much complicated and we didn’t complain. I said mum complain is part of the modernity, it is not related to the real situation and Israelis they have a habit. If Israelis are getting half a glass of water they look only on the upper half of the glass. This is why we have so many start-ups and this is why we complain all the time but at the end of the day the glass is more than half full. Now I am open to questions.

Lord Trimble

Thank you very much for that tour of force, I noticed that everything came in threes. Gentleman there.

Question 1

General, I consider myself to be a good friend of Israel but I have to say how disappointed I am with Israeli PR and I can give you a couple of personal examples if I may. I work at a production company, our target audience is in Iran we have made great changes in terms of changing the mind-set of the people. We made a documentary about the horrors of holocaust and the hideous crimes in Germany, we got zero cooperation from the Israeli embassy, just trying to work on another program at the moment to show the good times in Iran, in 1979 when we had a good relationship with Israel, we used to play football together, and I am asking Israeli TV station for some archive footage or Israeli and Iran football matches, it has been 1 week and I haven’t even received a reply. You need to look at your PR because it is damaging you and I am saying that as a friend of Israel.

Major General Yaacov Amidror

I agree with you. I more than agree with you, our PR really needs to be much better than it is today. I can see it because if someone is visiting Israel…

Lord Trimble

Now I don’t want to personalise it but there is somebody here from the Israeli Embassy and he might want to say something…

Question 2 – Israeli Embassy

Thank you so much for your presentation. I go the Arab countries quite a lot and I chair discussions about the Middle East and what I want to tell you is that we can have entire discussions about the Middle East in this building without Israel and Palestine even being mentioned because as you say, if you discuss it with Arab foreign ministers they don’t event discuss it or they don’t want to discuss it, it has gone completely off the radar. Surely General this is precisely the opportunity, surely this is the opportunity to actually now whilst the world’s eyes are away from it to actually resolve it and I mean it most positively. Now obviously you mentioned that perhaps the Palestinians are not a vision of what they want as a result of this but I would just like to point you in the direction of one country where I happen to be going next week which I Egypt. You have a very good relationship with Egypt in that they talk openly about that relationship, they are trying with you to sort out some of the dreadful elements which still exist and I see that President Sisi now demanding that sermons in Friday evenings in the Mosque that are actually now regulated. So I just want to say this to you, I think there is a bold effort now which needs to be made where you can all benefit from what you have been talking about out there and I wonder if perhaps Egypt was part of the process of picking this up?

Major General Yaacov Amidror

A very, very good question. I spend some hours in your foreign ministry and I think that here this is an opportunity to be taken by mainly the Americans and not Europeans. The was a recent imitative which was begun by Sisi calling for a meeting between Abbas and Netanyahu in Egypt and the hospitality of the Egyptians. We said yes and they didn’t answer. It is not the first time. The big test of the Palestinians in the last one was in spring of 14 when after the initiative of Kerry didn’t bring the two sides together, the Americans provided paper, the prime minister visited Washington, I think it was April or May 14 and they presented him a paper saying we want you to come to negotiations with the Palestinians based on this paper. You look at the paper, I am not quoting, I am describing, looked at the paper and said I don’t like the paper, it is a very bad paper for Israel. But if it is an American one, I am ready to come, I will put my reservations on the table, it will be clear my reservations of the opposition point which could be very problematic in Israel, reservations about the paper. I will say it clearly and loudly but I will come to the negotiations. Months later Abu visited Washington, the Americans gave him another paper it is based on the first that they show us but it was announced by the Americans to be easier for Abu to say yes. When you ask the Americans how they do something like that, they said they understood from the Israelis that they can make the changes from how they understood it. Anyhow it is better from the Palestinian prospective, they had a better paper. American people say we are waiting for your answer that you can get a copy of the paper, it is very complicated I have to consult my people in Romara. He went to Romara and he is still consulting. So that was the test, there is nothing more clear than that. In the end, I know about at least 3 occasions, 2 which have been organised by King Abdullah of Jordan, 1 organised by the Americans and the fourth is the one which didn’t happen in spring of 14. The last one is still consulting it is very complicated. So it is not so easy, it is a good opportunity but here is something new and here if the Americans and the Brits will be more involved and more active, something can be reached. I am not speaking about agreement, agreement is another story but to resume negotiations that can be done. They way to do it is to take the initiative of Sisi and to push the Palestinians in. We said we are ready to come to Egypt, to Cairo and to sit and negotiate and why haven’t they done so?

Question 3

Thank you very much for your talk General, it is immensely reassuring to hear from an Israeli that so far as he is concerned and he speaks authoratively, the situation is not so bad. From the perspective of Britain what we see is the situation getting worse and I am thinking particularly now about ISIS and the way in which it is inspiring acts of terror almost throughout Europe now and I think it is behind the spate of knife attacks and shootings in Israel by Israelis and it brings me to my question. The reason for my optimism you have said is that in the past Israel was confronted by state or state like entities, now it only has to deal with 3 NGOs and I think Hamas, Hezbollah and ISIS I think were included but the whole point is surely is ISIS doesn’t regard itself as an NGO, it bears in its name the notion of being a state so it is one as a caliphate seeks to claim the allegiance certainly of all Sunnis and has in the past drawn a lot of Muslims from all over Europe and elsewhere and radicalised them. You don’t seem worried about the possibility that they still may yet establish what is effectively a state in Iraq and Syria and if they did, would they not really and truly be your deadliest enemy?

Major General Yaacov Amidror

Well there are 3 different questions in one. First of all, I am not worried, I worry for God and my wife that is all. All other issues I have to deal with, to be worried is not a good recipe. I see many challenges but I am not worried. ISIS first of all is an idea and then the idea which tried to establish a state and third it is a terror organisation which is ready to kill everyone who is not ISIS. They kill much more Muslims than Christians or Jews. A thousand times more Muslims than non-Muslims. So it is 3 different issues here, about I begin with the terror threat.

The terror threat from our point of view, it is just another one, we have been living with them for the past 100 years. Some from time to time there is a way and we try to find a solution. ISIS is a phenomena, it is a terror threat to Israel and is another phenomena within a list of phenomena terrorist organisations. It didn’t bring to the Israeli side anything which we didn’t know how to deal with, this is the difference between us and Europe. In Europe and in Britain, you have to learn what we did 60 years ago and slowly, slowly, to build the capability to deal with it. Think about what happened in Nice. If something like that happened in Jerusalem here for sure would succeed to enter to the parameter because he came with a heavy lorry and even to kill some people but after the first time, someone with a gun, a civilian guy, jump on the lorry and kill him. It is as easy as that, how do I know, it happened. There were two big Lorries in Jerusalem on the street they killed 3 people and then they had been killed by someone who walked nearby on the street. A society which had all the flexibility will immediately find a solution, not after 84 people killed and 250 injured but after 8 people killed and 20 injured. So this is about the terror issue for you it is something new, for us it is another one on the list that is all.

About the state, if they would succeed to build a state, it would be a different problem and this is why the Americans and all the big coalitions in the world to fight ISIS, concentrating on one issue, not letting them to build a state. Because the state is a different issue, this is why the Americans went to Afghanistan, not to allow them to have a state. I think that relatively what you hear is too optimistic but in the end they are succeeding to shrink the ISIS control and the last one is the idea. The ideology will remain and this is a huge problem. The more the Americans and Iraqis let Sheikhs go into Sunni areas to wage the war against ISIS by going to control Sunni areas then no question more Sunnis will like the idea. Even if they don’t volunteer to the organisation because the organisation is suffering from being treated by the Americans but the idea is there and this is why I told you, this is a spectrum for Muslim Brotherhood on one side and ISIS on the other side. Islam is the solution, remember the slogan of the Muslim Brotherhood, the idea will remain and it is a huge problem. This is why I am pessimistic about the next few years.

Question 4

You mentioned 4 countries as sort of a pillar of stability but I want to ask today about Turkey. What happened there over the weekend was something but it seems to be the Islam inaudible in Turkey has been progressing, as a result that means that there is kind of exclusiveness in the society and the region. So how do you think that Turkey can be a stable country?

Major General Yaacov Amidror

I did say that the 4 states that had been mentioned by the Egyptians, Egypt, Iran, Turkey and Israel are the source of stability in the Middle East but there are real states with all the environment around it. Turkey is very interesting, if you look at the other 3 countries mentioned other than Israel, Turkey, Egypt and Iran they had a fantastic past built on empire, Iranian empire in Egypt which is the main country in the Middle East, in the West side of the Middle East and are struggling with problems which one of them is the friction between political Islam and modernity. Remember Egypt was very near the same situation of Turkey, Sisi understood that if he waits another few years he will come to the same situation as Turkey which that the Army lost its ability to make a difference. If you look at Iran and you remember what happened in 2009, the green revolution, it was again modernity versus fundamentalism, Sheikh fundamentalism which is different from the Sunni fundamentalism. Yes they have to deal with this ideology of Islam in all the 3 countries. When Adnan came to power he understood that is number one job in to neutralise the ability of the army to act and to influence and he did it very successfully, very slowly with a lot of help from the Europeans. Now he will have the opportunity to be even more bold about their direction and we will see oppressing all island of opposition and taking all the capabilities of the state into his own personal hands, I would not be surprised if he would go to an election because he needs to change the disposition. There are prices or course. The army is not the same army after such an event. They said a third of the Generals are out of the army now, I mean you cannot recover immediately after that and they are facing huge problems – the Kurds, ISIS, all the terror events in the last few months in Turkey. If you cannot use the army against them then who can do the job? He fired the 9000 police officers, the police are also weakened so no question that he is entering an era of a very problematic situation but he will be much stronger with more legitimacy domestically, even if the Europeans and the others try to say something about his legitimacy and try to protect the remains of democracy elements in Turkey. They will not succeed for his title and his ideology he wants to get rid of all the remains from the revolution element and he wants all the other elements of opposition, we will see a stronger Erdogan in a weaker Turkey.

Question 5

The Israeli and Arab journalist inaudible… Jerusalem Post, inaudible… you can’t improvise with inaudible… you wouldn’t last a day if you did so, that’s why inaudible respond inaudible.. do you think he is right or do you have any comment?

Major General Yaacov Amidror

Yes I think that he is very much right and there is outer pressure from the outside Hamdallah will not go to negotiations because unlike in the United Nations, you have to comprise. If tomorrow the Palestinians brought to the general assembly the decision that the sun is shining in the west in Israel, they will have the majority. Britain would abstain but they would have the majority.

Question 6

General I am most interested in what you have to say about the Palestinians but we know that Israel will attend any meeting but Palestinians have already made it abundantly clear that they don’t accept the legitimacy of Israel. They don’t consider that Israel should exist, now in your opinion is there any possibility at all about talks having any form of success or are we just clutching at straws?

Major General Yaacov Amidror

I think that in the present situation with the present relationship with Palestinians there is no chance of an agreement. They cannot comprise because some of them believe in the ideology, some of them are afraid of others who believe in the ideology, some of them are too much corrupted and they know it would expose them too much to a situation where they lose their positions and so on and so forth. I am very pessimistic about the ability of the Palestinian system to bring a solution and to deliver, whatever will be the solution. But I think that for the sake of Israel’s future we will have to do whatever is needed to keep the doors open for negotiations in the future and there are some prices which we have to pay for it. It is in the interest of Israel to keep the doors open.

Lord Trimble

Now I have just been told that the General has to leave at quarter past on the dot and I had two persons which I indicated I might be calling them and I suspect that will take us to the quarter past mark there.

Question 7

General I have a question, I know that Israel believes strongly in the independence of the goods and the statue of the holy state which is part of the Iran, Turkey, Syria and Iraq. Now my question inaudible… 2014, what is the opinion of Israeli officials regarding an establishment of inaudible nations and partly I am talking about Lebanon as a nation led again by the inaudible..

Major General Yaacov Amidror

We have an experience with the Maronite’s and in a way the Maronite’s cannot agree between themselves about what they want. We thought that the Jews and Israelis are an example of a community who do not agree about anything from the Maronite’s we learn that there are worse occasions or worse situations. The Maronite’s lost the opportunity in 1982 by themselves by the way and I don’t see them getting it again because the Sheikhs are much stronger and the Sunnis will not let it happen.

Question 8

General you spoke about the UKs deal. Do you think that a new administration in America can deal with the terrorism of Iraq and put sanctions before activating this deal?

Major General Yaacov Amidror

I don’t know who will be the new administration, in America it is a question of gender, it will be he or she I don’t know. I don’t think that any of them will break the agreement immediately. It very much depends on the attitude of the Iranians, what we tried to make clear to the Americans is that okay they signed an agreement with Iran, we don’t like the agreement we think it is a very bad one not a wise one, but it is an agreement which was agreed. There are other issues which should be tackled by the Americans, we understand why this administration cannot do it because they have a strong obligation towards the agreement and don’t want to endanger it. We hope that any new administration, either it will be she or he will look at the situation and say okay we have an agreement with the Iranians whether we like it or don’t like it there is an agreement. This is not a reason to let the Iranians carry out their missile test and building a terror organisation all over the world and to be involved in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq and whatever. We hope to convince the Americans that they should take care of all that because they have the responsibility of those who signed the agreement with the Iranians and made the Iranians believe that they can do whatever they want. So we have to wait for the next administration to see if we and by the way we share the same idea about that with many Arab countries, some of them publically, some of them not publically but they agree that this is the issue and it should be dealt by the Americas next administration.

Lord Trimble

Well we have had a very good hour, we have had a very comprehensive and a very clear explanation and responses to questions but the time has come when I must ask you to show your appreciation to the General. Thank you.

HJS



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