Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Monday.
Speaking at a conference held by the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya, Steinitz said, “Every examination of what happened in Gaza, and every look at what is happening around Israel, leads to the conclusion that the demand for Israel to withdraw to the 1967 lines, without holding on to the Jordan Valley, without defensible borders, without security control, and without the demilitarization of Gaza... is a recipe for collective suicide.”
Stressing that “we all want a diplomatic process and peace,” the cabinet minister said, “We must be careful, for despite our desire for peace, we are talking about our existence. We must look at what is happening in the Palestinian arena, not just in the context of Israel and the Palestinians, but as part of the wider regional development in the Middle East.”
Terror organizations are spreading throughout the Middle East, Steinitz said, noting developments in Libya, the Sinai Peninsula, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and several other arenas.
“When you look at the whole of the Arab-Muslim Sunni arena... organizations with jihadi agendas are spreading.
Hamas took over half of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza through force, while executing hundreds of Fatah members.
“Hamas took over half of the PA. We can’t disconnect that from the wider context,” Steinitz said.
He questioned how and if a future Palestinian state in the West Bank could stop jihadi organizations, be they al-Qaida, Islamic State, Hamas, or Islamic Jihad, from taking over and toppling it.
“This has already happened to the PA in Gaza. Yesterday, we heard Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] talk against them [Hamas],” Steinitz said. “Who can seriously guarantee that what happened in Gaza to half of the PA can’t repeat itself in Judea and Samaria, in Kalkilya, Tulkarm, Nablus, and Jenin? What wondrous security arrangements can prevent this?” “If this repeats itself in Judea and Samaria, this becomes an existential threat. From there, thousands of shortrange rockets... put Tel Aviv, Gush Dan and Jerusalem in range. From Gaza, mortar fire creates a very severe threat on Nahal Oz and Nirim.
“But these shells, with ranges of up to 7 km., fired from Judea and Samaria, get to Jerusalem. Petah Tikva and large parts of Route 6 connecting northern Israel to its south. What constitutes a severe threat in Gaza, becomes an existential threat from Judea and Samaria.”
Steinitz said Abbas is offering Israel a diplomatic process without security or peace.
“One can’t ignore the dynamic of recent years in the whole of the Middle East. Abu Mazen isn’t the terrorist firing the rockets, that’s true. He condemns Hamas’s terrorism as counter- productive.
“But he not only continues to incite against Israel’s right to exist. He can’t be cleared from responsibility of what is happening in Gaza. Before the disengagement from Gaza, nine years ago, he said Palestinians would take responsibility for Gaza and that there would be no rockets or hostilities.
“Since then, 16,000 rockets have been fired at us, not including mortars. Palestinians have to prove that they can demilitarize Gaza.
“If they can’t do that, what are they offering us? A Palestinian state armed with thousands of rockets and antitank missiles?” Steinitz is heading an Israeli delegation, including officials from the Mossad, the Israel Atomic Energy Commission and Defense and Foreign Ministries to Washington, to for two-day talks regarding Iran’s nuclear program. The delegation departed for the US on Monday evening.
He told the conference that the Shi’ite jihadi threat is more severe than its Sunni counter-part.
“What the Islamic State is doing in Iraq and Syria is what the Ayatollahs did in Iran 30 years ago. The Shi’ite jihadis are as fanatic, but more sophisticated. They set up their state 30 years ago in rivers of fire and blood, executing thousands.
They are now trying to create nuclear weapons, as a counter-weight to Israel, moderate [Sunni] states, the US and the whole of the West,” he said.
If Iran becomes a nuclear state, or a nuclear break-out state, the Sunni world will follow suit, Steinitz warned. “Ladies and gentlemen, we must stop both threats. The Sunni radicals are spreading terror organizations in the region. And the Shi’ite radicals are not just made up of militias and terror groups like Hezbollah.
“They could also create a nuclear umbrella for them if we don’t act now.
That’s why we are heading to the US for two days of strategic dialogue,” the minister added.
Steinitz added that Israel is “very concerned” about the direction diplomatic talks between the West and Iran have taken. He expressed appreciation to the US Congress and to the Obama administration, for sanctions placed on Iran, and for the constructive dialogue with Israel on the Iranian nuclear threat, in which intelligence and critical information is often shared.