Against the background of the intensifying demonstrations in Lebanon, the former IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. (res.) Gadi Eizenkot, called at the INSS Conference for the promotion of economic moves for the benefit of Lebanon, intended to take this country away from the influence of Iran and Hezbollah.
“Economic moves for the benefit of the Lebanese people on the part of Israel, like the gas agreements and other agreements, will help seize the opportunity to give the country back to the Lebanese people and remove it from the grasp of the Iranian Quds Force and Hezbollah.”
In his address, Eizenkot referred to a range of regional issues. Regarding the consolidation of the Iranian Quds Force opposite Israel’s northern border, he said that “Israel enjoys intelligence and strategic superiority over Syria and Iran – which makes it difficult for them to operate.”
Regarding the involvement of the world powers in Syria, he said that “The impressive achievement that the United States had led toward defeating ISIS should have been translated into a regional achievement, which would have led to a more favorable reality, and I refer specifically to US-Russian cooperation. Without it, I find it difficult to envision a possibility of stabilizing Syria. The interest of strengthening the more moderate Sunni countries is an Israeli interest as it is an interest of the US. Powerful, intelligent involvement is required not only for the stability of the region, but also for the stability of the world in general.”
Regarding the Gaza Strip issue, the former Chief of Staff said that “Just as we found a solution to the problem of suicide bombers, we will find a solution to the problem of the Gaza Strip, even if it turns out to be more complex. Hamas is a relatively small and relatively weak organization which succeeded in developing a mode of operation that enables it to launch missiles at the Israeli rear, thereby influencing major population centers. I do not disparage what has been happening in the Gaza Envelope area for the past two years, but at the same time we must remind ourselves that we had experienced much more difficult circumstances in the past. We had suicide bombers on buses for four years, and 1,200 people were killed. We dealt with it and we defeated terrorism. We need to find a solution to the problem in the Gaza Strip and I believe such a solution will be found.”
“Opposing a Defense Pact”
Eizenkot presented his view against the US-Israel defense pact which Prime Minister Netanyahu is currently promoting. “The defense pact (option) has been raised as a thought by the Israeli leadership since the 1950s, based on the realization that Israel faces a tremendous defense challenge opposite numerous enemies. The concept consolidated over many years was that Israel defends itself on its own. Israel is an invincible country,” he said.
“Our predecessors,” noted the former Chief of Staff, “Each one during his term, built a defensive tier that made the State of Israel extremely strong. Israel today, as well as within the foreseeable future, can defend itself on its own, so in my view, it is not necessary at a time when Israel is at the peak of its military capabilities relative to its enemies. Accordingly, I think it is not something that should be promoted at this time.”
“If extremely severe circumstances should develop and a nuclear capability has been introduced to the Middle East and the potential of an existential threat has emerged, then it would be the right thing to discuss such pacts. Today it is not the right thing to discuss a defense pact,” concluded Eizenkot.