IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, two weeks before ending his term, offered his thoughts (in Hebrew) on Israel’s strategic security challenges in the Middle East. Unlike any other Israeli politician, general or spy chief before him, Gantz offered a warning that if Israel didn’t make progress on negotiating a peace deal with the Palestinians, it should not expect the world to remain uninvolved (1:43 of the video):
…Benny Gantz said…”the international community cannot afford not to intervene” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in order to bring the conflict to a close…
Whether or not Israel wanted, the world sees Israel-Palestine as bound up in other dangerous regional conflicts. These are so critical to the interests of foreign powers that there’s no chance Israel will be allowed to pursue its own interests unhindered.
He couched this warning in boiler-plate Israel security-speak which claimed that many were exploiting the I-P conflict as an excuse to unite the world (especially the Arab world) with a sense of grievance against Israel. Though he saw such a stratagem as manipulative, he basically conceded that the longer Israel delays in solving the issue the more robust and insistent will be international resolve in forcing a resolution. The implication was that such an imposed solution might not be in Israel’s best interest.
The image he projected was of a much more pragmatic leaders than his boss, the prime minister. That is why he framed his argument in the geo-strategic rhetoric that is standard for Israeli strategic analysts. But I’ve never heard a chief of staff warn the political echelon so clearly that there are limits to Israel’s power and that if it doesn’t recognize it, Israel risks being taken down a peg or two by powers much stronger than it is.
On a related subject, Israel’s Mossad chief, Tamir Pardo, showed a lot of guts in going against common Bibi-wisdom by telling a Congressional delegation that he didn’t believe more sanctions would bring Iran to heel:
The Israeli intelligence agency Mossad has broken ranks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, telling U.S. officials and lawmakers that a new Iran sanctions bill in the U.S. Congress would tank the Iran nuclear negotiations…
Evidence of the Israeli rift surfaced Wednesday when Secretary of State John Kerry said that an unnamed Israeli intelligence official had said the new sanctions bill would be “like throwing a grenade into the process.” But an initial warning from Israeli Mossad leaders was also delivered last week in Israel to a Congressional delegation…
…Two senior U.S. officials tell us that the Mossad has also shared its view with the administration that if legislation that imposed a trigger leading to future sanctions on Iran was signed into law, it would cause the talks to collapse.
This view directly contradicts the hyper-punitive position Netanyahu has taken. It coincides with the view of the Obama administration and weakened Bibi’s position. Which was why the PMO immediately released a statement saying Pardo completely adheres to the view of the prime minister regarding Iran sanctions (pile ’em on). I note that Pardo himself did not release the statement and that the PMO release spoke on his behalf in the third person. In other words, Pardo didn’t write the statement and may not have even had any role in drafting it. Showing that he likely still retains the original views attributed to him.
Why is it that the senior military and intelligence figures have a more nuanced grasp of geo-strategic matters than Israel’s current (and future) political leaders do? What does it say about this leadership that it is so out of touch with the security apparatus?