galant yoav

Yoav Galant: government must take diplomatic initiative

Haretz | Barak Ravid | 28 May, 2016

Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant said in a meeting with Jewish leaders in New York last week that the government’s policy is not to build in the West Bank and that he abides by it.

Galant, a member of Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party, said that due to the threat of the formation of a binational state, the government must take diplomatic initiative in the West Bank even without a Palestinian partner.

Galant, a member of the security cabinet, made the comments in a closed meeting with the heads of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Partial recordings of the meeting were carried by a newsletter sent out by Jewish Insider, an American news website. Haaretz has obtained full transcripts.

Galant was asked several times about construction in the settlements and gave an answer that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to confirm consistently over the past year.

“Basically – I am following the policy of the government and it is that we are not building in Judea and Samaria. But I am not the only one with the ability to build,” Galant said. “There are private people and other segments of the government that work according to different ministers.”

Galant said the solution to the settlement construction question had to be based on the understandings reached by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and former U.S. President George W. Bush. According to those understandings, construction should take place only in the settlement blocs and only based on natural growth.

After President Barack Obama entered office, the White House said it did not know of such understandings from the Bush administration. The secretary of state during the Bush years, Condoleezza Rice, also said there were no such understandings.

Galant expressed great concern over the implications of a continued freeze in talks with the Palestinians.

“Within 10 years we will have 7 million Palestinians and 7 million Jews – we understand it is a major event,” he said. “A solution with the Palestinians is an Israeli interest – we need it the sooner the better.”

Galant said Israel did not have a partner today on the Palestinian side, but this should not stop it from moving ahead.

“On the other hand there is a question of what happens if we take our hands off the stick and let this plane keep gliding. What will happen in a generation. We know the numbers,” he said.

“Those numbers are not very promising. A one-state solution is a very bad idea for Israel – we saw what happened in the Balkans .... Thinking about the future obliges us as a government to bring a solution even if the other doesn’t like it.”

To the Full article » Click Here.

The Iron Principle: Security First!

At a time of widespread terror, fear and hatred, political arrangements are beyond reach.  Therefore, without giving up on peace as the strategic objective, Israel must give security precedence

Major General (Ret.) Amnon Reshef
A version of this article was published in Yediot Ahronot (Hebrew), March 21th, 2016

Yesterday we saluted Major General (Res.) Meir Dagan, a fearless fighter, an admired commander, a towering head of Mossad, and a true partner, who passed away at the age of 71. His family history during the holocaust convinced him of the importance of military power for Jewish survival.  Our common experiences defending the State of Israel only reinforced this conviction. However, they also made us realize that Israel's military superiority affords us the risks involved in striving for a political solution. For the combination of these two – military strength and the drive for a political arrangement – is essential to Israel's security and to the very character of our State.

The experience of recent decades teaches us one more lesson: that one key assumption – articulated by another admired commander, the late Yitzhak Rabin – did not survive his assassination.  Rabin argued that Israel must "fight terror as if there were no peace process, and press forward for peace as if there were no terror." It turns out that absent his kind of heroic leadership, at times of widespread terror, fear and hatred are easily amplified rendering political compromises beyond reach.  Therefore, without giving up on peace as our primary strategic objective, at the moment Israel must assign security precedence over peace.

Consequently, after months of deliberations by dozens of members, Commanders for Israel's Security (CIS), whose members are Generals and equivalents of Israel's security establishment (IDF, Mosad, Shabak, police), recently drafted its Security First plan. It calls upon the government to implement a range of specific steps 'on the ground' – military, political and civilian/economic – in the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, as well as to issue specific transformative policy statements, all in the service of two national objectives: First, security. Combined, these measures will improve the personal security of all Israelis living within the 'Green Line' as well as all those living west of the 'Security Barrier' in the West Bank and East Jerusalem (some 80% of all settlers); provide enhanced means of protecting Israelis residing on the West Bank east of the ' Barrier'; and stabilize the cease fire with Gaza. Second, in word and deed, preserve the conditions for a two state agreement in the future.

On the West Bank, Security First calls for continued IDF control over all the territory between the Jordan River and the 'Security Barrier' until such time as a peace agreement is effectuated.  It details measures for completing construction of the 'Barrier', increasing law enforcement around it, and reducing friction between the Israeli and Palestinian populations throughout the West Bank. As decided upon by the Israeli government, the 'Barrier' is supposed to extend over a 479 miles route.  As of today, however, it only covers 291 miles (60%). Terrorists and those seeking illegal residence regularly infiltrate through existing gaps.  The plan, therefore, lays out in detail what must be done to complete the 'Barrier', and suggests a list of additional measures to prevent infiltration.

In Jerusalem, the plan calls for both physical and administrative separation between Palestinian villages and neighborhoods in East Jerusalem on the one hand, and the Israeli neighborhoods on the other.  This will involve a physical barrier with wide, crossing points to allow for the monitored transit of Palestinians to their places of employment in the city.  Under the current circumstances we cannot permit 300,000 Palestinians with residency status in Jerusalem unmonitored movement into the Israeli parts of the city and, from there, to the rest of the country.  This plan, to be sure, raises ethical dilemmas.  However, in these difficult times, and until a permanent agreement is reached and implemented, our first priority must be to guarantee the personal security of Israel's citizens.

The Jerusalem section of the plan also contains recommendations in the civilian sphere designed to accelerate development of deprived neighborhoods and greater Palestinian control over their sections of the city. These include the establishment of a municipal "umbrella authority" for the Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem, invested with authority for planning and construction, tax collection, municipal services and the like, all within the overall Jerusalem municipal authority. It also details the opening of the barrier that currently separates Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem from the West Bank so as to reestablish the connection of Arab villages and neighborhoods with the fabric of Palestinian life on the West Bank, and steps to allow Palestinian police access to areas of Palestinian residence which presently have no now law and order presence, hence emerged as safe-heavens for terrorists and criminals.

This plan also includes economic measures designed to promote the well being of Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza, other measures to promote Gaza ceasefire stabilization, along with political initiatives aimed at improving the atmosphere on the ground and Israel's standing in the region and in the world.

Cognizant of the fact that conditions are not ripe for a comprehensive political agreement, these measure, while enhancing security, can also serve as a powerful evidence of the sincerity of Israel's commitment to a two state solution. Thus, they can instill hope and encourage the Palestinian majority to restrain extremists.

In demonstrating the mutually reinforcing effect of security measures, economic and other civil steps, and policy statement, the plan, which will be unveiled to the general public over the coming weeks, launches an iron principle:  Security First.  This is no time to hide behind the question of whether or not we have a partner. Now is the time to launch an Israeli initiative that will guarantee security for Israel's citizens and secure the two state option for a better day.

Major General (Ret.) Amnon Reshef is the founder and Chairman of Commanders for Israel's Security.


Amnon Reshef Letter to Ya'alon

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Why Does Israel's Liberal Opposition Leader Say There's No Prospect of a Peace Deal?

Israel’s Knesset gave preliminary approval February 9 to a controversial bill aimed at shaming human rights organizations that get funding from foreign governments. The bill, a top priority of Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition, requires not-for-profits getting more than half their budgets from foreign governments — mostly European — to post a warning of their foreign links on all public communications. The effect would be to discredit the not-for-profits in the eyes of the public. Coalition leaders say left-wing human rights groups defame Israel and undermine its security. The bill now goes to committee before returning to the Knesset floor for final approval.

J.J.Goldberg | February 16, 2016 |


But just hours before the vote, in a dramatic display of defiance, Israel’s military chief of staff told a prestigious security conference near Tel Aviv that he’d ordered the army’s legal department to work with the most controversial of the targeted not-for-profits, the left-wing army veterans group Breaking the Silence, to follow up on allegations of war crimes.

Every soldier who “hears a patently illegal order needs to know that it is his obligation to disobey it,” the army chief, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, told the conference. He said he wished soldiers had disobeyed illegal orders “in real time” rather than waiting until discharge and then announcing that they were “breaking the silence.”

This was Eisenkot’s second major policy address in three weeks — and only the second in the year since he took command of the Israel Defense Forces. His outspokenness is raising the volume in a growing series of highly public spats between Israel’s government and its senior military and intelligence command. The two sides have been at odds for months over the root causes of the 4-month-old terrorism wave. The government blames anti-Israel incitement by Palestinian leaders, while Military Intelligence and the Shin Bet security service publicly blame economic despair and diplomatic frustration among Palestinian youth.

Eisenkot reaffirmed the army’s view in his February 9 speech. The army had confirmed a day earlier that it asked the government for 30,000 new permits for Palestinians to work in Israel, in order to improve their economic situation and thus reduce violence.

And yet, in a bizarre performance three days earlier, deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely of the Likud party made international headlines by telling an Al-Jazeera interviewer that the intelligence agencies’ “despair and frustration” analysis was “absolutely wrong.” Hotovely, a lawyer and journalist in the Knesset since 2009, said attackers were driven by hatred of Israel and by incitement from Palestinian leaders and the Islamic State group. She said it was a mark of Israel’s democracy that it permitted airing of diverse views, like those of its intelligence agencies.

Amid the widening rift, however, perhaps the most telling new development is the adoption by Israel’s Labor Party at a February 7 convention of a new diplomatic platform proposed by the party’s chairman, Isaac Herzog. He calls for Israel to complete its separation wall around the West Bank and to freeze construction in settlements outside the major settlement blocs it intends to keep. The object, he says, is to preserve the possibility of a two-state solution someday; right now, there’s no prospect of a peace agreement, since neither side’s leaders are prepared for the necessary concessions.

Herzog also calls for Israel to initiate a regional conference with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf states to discuss joint strategies against Iran and Islamic State, with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as part of the agenda. And he calls for new barriers separating Jerusalem proper from 28 Palestinian villages that were annexed to the city in 1967 and that, in Herzog’s view, should be joined to the West Bank.

Why is Herzog’s plan a sign of the military-political rift? Simple: It’s essentially a hard-line version of a plan floated in late 2014 by Commanders for Israel’s Security, a group of retired generals and intelligence chiefs that now numbers close to 200, most of them still serving in active reserves. Like Herzog, the generals call for a regional security conference that would include Israeli-Palestinian talks. They also call for claiming the major settlement blocs along the 1967 armistice lines and for freezing construction outside the blocs. Unlike Herzog, the generals explicitly say that “setting Israel’s eastern border” on or near the 1967 lines would “clarify the future” of isolated settlements deep inside Palestinian-populated areas. That is, they’d be evacuated.

A bigger difference is that the generals, unlike Herzog, call for Israel to welcome the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative as a basis for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. That means acceptance of the 1967 lines, adjusted for land swaps, as the basis for the Israeli-Palestinian border, as well as a negotiated deal for resettlement or compensation of the Palestinian refugees. Saudi and other Arab officials have told Israelis in private talks that acceptance of the Arab initiative is a prerequisite for regional Israeli-Arab security talks.

Perhaps most important, the generals don’t dismiss Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas as a negotiating partner. They’re skeptical that he still has the authority to deliver a deal, but few doubt that he has the will. Hence the regional conference: The involvement of the moderate Arab states could provide cover for Abbas or a successor to make hard decisions. The generals also see the Arab League “taking responsibility” to secure a Fatah-Hamas agreement to enter a peace deal.

The generals’ group includes about one-fourth of Israel’s estimated 600 living ex-generals (the IDF has about 120 active-duty generals), plus a similar percentage of former directors and deputies in the Shin Bet, the Mossad intelligence agency and the national police. Several dozen others are known to agree with the principles but haven’t signed on. Ex-generals who’ve publicly spoken up against the Arab initiative or the 1967 border total about a dozen.

The bottom line, then, is that the Labor Party vote puts the bulk of Israel’s security establishment to the left — not just of Israel’s government, but also of its left-wing political opposition.

The plan the generals tout was first floated in the summer of 2014, during the Gaza war, by former Shin Bet director Yaakov Peri, who at that time was a Cabinet minister with Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party. Herzog’s plan, Peri told me, has “good elements, but he didn’t get to the hard topics. Evacuation of settlements. The future of Jerusalem. What to do about the West Bank-Gaza link.”

Moreover, Peri said, Herzog dodges the fact that “there is a partner” on the Palestinian side. Abbas “is old and fed up,” but “he’s ready to negotiate. Two weeks ago he said he’s ready to meet.”

Peri may be judging Herzog too harshly, though. It might just be smart politics to ignore Abbas right now, since Netanyahu wouldn’t negotiate with him regardless. “His government would fall if there were negotiations,” Labor lawmaker and former brigadier general Nachman Shai told me. “They blame the Palestinians, but that’s just an excuse.” In reality, coalition hardliners “don’t want an agreement, because an agreement means withdrawing from Judea and Samaria. And they don’t want to.”

To the artical:

Speech by Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amnon Reshef at the CIS conference

On Thursday, October 22nd, 2015, the CIS held a conference at Air Force House in Herzliya, attended by 200 members and supporters. ‎

Conference agenda: ‎

  • The feasibility of the two-state solution, Col. (ret.) Shaul Arieli (a separate newsletter will cover this lecture). ‎
  • CIS' Policy and Plans, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amnon Reshef. ‎

"The future of the State of Israel does not depend on the availability of a partner. ‎ Israel must take a security-diplomatic initiative"

To view a video of the speech(Hebrew), press here.‎

“The wave of terrorism testifies to the risks inherent in a binational solution” ‎

The People of Israel are experiencing a period of anxiety concerning personal security, and for good reasons. ‎This is not the first wave of terrorism, and without a fundamental change in conditions, it can be safely predicted that the current round will not be the last.  ‎

This wave of terrorism is a concrete and painful manifestation of the risks facing Israel as a democratic-Jewish state from the emergence of a bi-national reality. ‎It is the outcome of failures of many Israeli governments and the absence of a strategy and of a courageous security-diplomatic initiative.‎

Our security forces are working diligently and courageously in protecting our people and lowering the flames. ‎ But these activities, even if proven effective in the immediate future, do not address the core problem, and thus cannot prevent the next round. ‎

“The status quo policy has failed”‎

The policy of maintaining the status quo has failed repeatedly, resulting in outbreaks of violence from the north, south, and from within. ‎We cannot control the behavior of our neighbors. ‎ But with different conduct we can change their calculations; strengthen the moderates; weaken the extremists, and ensure that - when the time comes – our people will be united in the conviction that we are just, and the relevant international community will not unite against us.‎

It is not just that sanctifying the status quo does not fit in with an ever changing environment, but even as Israel declares allegiance to the status quo, it constantly changes it: legalizing isolated illegal settlements; increasing the number of settlers beyond the separation fence; building settlements and neighborhoods to prevent Palestinian territorial contiguity; as well as a huge investment in infrastructure, in building roads to nowhere – none of these are expressions of a status quo. ‎

These are material changes that jeopardize the prospects of separating from the Palestinians; feed frustration, hopelessness, and fury among Palestinians; radicalize the street against us in neighboring countries; and irritate our friends in the West. ‎

“Israel does not initiate; it lets itself be dragged along” ‎

For a long time, Israel has taken no initiative. ‎ We have let ourselves be dragged along by events.  That is how we were dragged into the Second Lebanon War; into Operation Cast Lead; into Operation Protective Edge; and now into the uprising of knives and car ramming attacks.‎

‎The future of the State of Israel must not be dependent on the availability of a partner. Only on our own decisions” ‎

The two-state solution, which is the best solution for the State of Israel, its security, and existence as a democratic-Jewish state, seems farther away than ever. ‎ But current Israeli policy jeopardizes its possible realization in the future.‎

The standing of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is dismal, and a large part of the Palestinian public no longer regards him as their legitimate representative. ‎ The Abbas era may soon be over. We may have to wait for his successor.‎ But this is no justification for jeopardizing our long-term security by taking irresponsible actions in the interim. ‎

The split between Fatah and Hamas, between the West Bank and Gaza Strip rules out a dialogue with a single Palestinian government which represents all Palestinians. We can't change this. But we must avoid any act that perpetuates it, and must encourage measures to change it - including by Egypt and other pragmatic Arab states.‎

The claim that there is no partner – justified or not -- must not justify a policy that keeps us stuck in the Palestinian mire. ‎‎The future of the State of Israel is not dependent on the availability of a partner, ‎but is based solely on our decisions.

“We must set Israel’s border with Palestine” ‎

Therefore, we must immediately set Israel’s eastern border with Palestine, including the settlement blocs and the Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem. ‎Such a decisive unilateral decision will be a turning point with far-reaching consequences in future negotiations with the Palestinians and the international community:‎

First and foremost, it will be the ultimate response to trickling terrorism from the West Bank into Israel and will limit the friction points between the peoples. ‎That was the logic behind the construction of the separation fence following the Second Intifada. That logic still holds and is even more valid now; ‎

Such a decision will allow Israel to continue developing the large blocs within the territorial swap concept which has already been endorsed by all relevant parties, including the Palestinians; ‎

Such a declaration, however painful, will clarify the status of the settlements on the eastern side of the border. ‎

“This will rehabilitate our relations with the US and Europe”‎

This decision will make it clear to all that our intentions are serious; it will rehabilitate our relations with the US and Europe; and allow regional cooperation to begin. ‎

In view of the principle that we must avoid any measure that makes it more difficult to achieve a permanent settlement, it is essential to ensure that our actions today do not perpetuate the separation of the two parts of the future Palestinian state. ‎ This means that rehabilitation efforts in the Gaza Strip and efforts at cease-fire stabilization do not weaken the Palestinian Authority, but rather pave the way for its return to the Gaza Strip, if at all possible. ‎

We must strive for a reality in which Israel’s readiness to move forward will yield a response from the relevant Arab states and the international community whereby they undertake to share in the responsibility for the relationship between Hamas and Fatah.‎

"Israeli military control will continue until a permanent settlement agreement is reached and implemented” ‎

Israeli military control will continue until a permanent settlement agreement is reached and implemented, including security arrangements that will allow a different deployment of the IDF. ‎ All to be implemented in accordance with agreed phases and subject to the Palestinians' meeting the conditions for transition from one phase to the next. ‎

Demilitarization of both the Gaza Strip and West Bank will be a condition for a permanent status agreement. ‎However, while Palestinian controlled segments of the West Bank are already demilitarized, it is important to demand a gradual demilitarization of the Gaza Strip as well, even if prospects for short term compliance are dim.‎

“Achieving national goals depends solely on Israel’s decision” ‎

Achieving national goals depends solely on Israel’s decision. Progress toward realizing them does not depend on an agreement with the Palestinians or on the existence of a partner. ‎The stages mentioned and the interim solutions suggested will serve Israel’s strategic objectives in both the immediate and long term. ‎

To talk about diplomatic arrangements – even gradual ones - in these times sounds hallucinatory. ‎ But every crisis has a "morning after",‎ and it is our duty to try and ensure that the morning after will not be the eve of the next crisis.‎

In this hall, and throughout the country, there are hundreds of senior defense officials who share this vision. ‎ Cumulatively, we represent thousands of years of experience in security in all the defense branches. ‎

We served in all of Israel’s wars without hesitation. ‎ We have lost countless dear friends. ‎ Many of us deal with the scars of battle every day and every night. ‎

“Change the nation’s direction ‎so that our children can grow up in a secure and strong Jewish-democratic state”‎

This is the time to step forward to serve as a powerful lever for change. ‎Not partisan change – that is not our business as a movement. ‎ But to change the national direction. A change that will ensure that our children and grandchildren will not be forced to experience what we have experienced. ‎ A change in which they will grow up and raise their children in a secure and strong Jewish-democratic state.

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Drawing the Line For Israel's National Security

The "two States for two Peoples" solution, however presently remote, is a vital Israeli interest. The "no partner" argument is but an excuse for lack of Israeli initiative. Even if a partner is presently unavailable, Israel must launch a diplomatic-security initiative.

Step one should be an immediate demarcation of our eventual eastern border-line, incorporating the main settlement 'blocs' and Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.

Such an initiative entails immediate security-diplomatic advantages:

 Drawing the Line for Security 

Declaring now Israel's future border-line, and implementing derived concrete steps of separation with the Palestinians, all while preserving full security control - shall enhance public safety, reduce friction between the two peoples, and relieve the IDF of police duties

 Drawing the Line for Settlers 

Presenting the future border-line shall legitimize continued investment in, and development of Jerusalem's Jewish neighborhoods and the major settlement blocks which shall forever be part of sovereign Israel. No more futile investment in remote isolated settlements - which constitute a security and financial burden and from which it is generally recognized that we shall part in an eventual two state solution.

 Drawing the Line for National Unity 

An Israeli announcement of the future border-line, without undermining security requirements, shall enjoy majority support and unite all around the common objective of greater security for our citizens.

 Drawing the Line for International Support 

Such an Israeli initiative shall signal to all the sincerity of our commitment to the two state solution; shall shift the burden to the Palestinians to reciprocate; will enhance Israel's credibility and set the stage for security-diplomatic cooperation against common challenges, in the region and beyond.

 Drawing the Line though it Hurts 

Such a declaration will do justice with settlements located outside the future border-line by clarifying their destiny. It shall remove doubts about the national resolve to face the painful compromise required for implementing the vision of a two state solution, all for a better future for all Israelis.

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To view our statement in Hebrew » Click Here.

New IDF Strategy Goes Public

The IDF's first-ever public strategy paper highlights the complex challenges posed by substate actors in a fast-transforming landscape, and it could serve as a basis for U.S.-Israeli security dialogue on the Iran nuclear deal.

Brig. Gen. Michael Herzog, IDF (Ret.) | 08.28.2015 | Washington Institute

On August 13, the Israel Defense Forces published a thirty-three-page document titled "IDF Strategy." This is a shorter, unclassified version of a comprehensive document designed as the conceptual framework for the new IDF five-year plan, "Gideon," which has yet to be approved by the government.

This document, bearing the imprint of new chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, is unique in Israel's history because it not only defines and bases itself on elements of a national security doctrine, but was also released to the public. Israel has not had a formal, written national security doctrine since the time of its first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion. The last attempt at developing one in 2004-2007 (the Meridor Comission), was completed but not put to government approval; the "IDF Strategy" draws on that effort.

The unprecedented publication may be motivated by a desire to shape the lively public debate on prioritizing national resources between security and socioeconomic needs -- specifically, to shift it from a technical discussion of budgetary inputs to a strategic discussion on required security outputs. The new document explores the fundamental changes in Israel's strategic and operational environment, which has seen rapid, violent upheavals and the collapse or weakening of state frameworks. The high degree of strategic and budgetary uncertainty has left the IDF without a formal government-approved multiyear plan since 2011.


The document highlights several major changes in Israel's strategic landscape:

Extreme, violent, and well-armed substate actors have replaced neighboring state armies as Israel's main military threat; these include Hezbollah in Lebanon/Syria and Hamas in Gaza (nonstate jihadist elements are also accumulating on Israel's borders, but for now they do not pose the same level of threat). In the past fifteen years alone, substate actors in the Lebanese and Palestinian theaters have forced Israel into five rounds of major armed conflict.

These actors can now target Israel's civilian population centers and vital strategic facilities with significant firepower, potentially affecting the country's societal resilience and ability to conduct a continuous war effort. This threat is constantly growing in volume, pace, range, accuracy, payload, and survivability. In addition, sophisticated military capabilities could undermine the IDF's offensive capacity in the ground, air, and sea theaters. The threat also includes extensive subterranean activities; during last year's Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, the IDF exposed an extensive network of cross-border tunnels dug by Hamas for offensive purposes.

These substate actors are operating from civilian areas in a bid to deny Israel's freedom of action or undercut the legitimacy of its war effort. This kind of warfare therefore encompasses nonmilitary dimensions such as legal, humanitarian, and media issues.

Israel's political standing in the West has eroded over the years, complicating efforts to gain increasingly needed international legitimacy for fighting armed elements in civilian areas. Clearly, the main cause of this erosion is the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict, though the document does not explicitly make this point.

As the domestic costs of national security grow, so are the pressures to invest more in the economy and society.

Interestingly, the document does not mention the Iranian nuclear threat directly. This has led some commentators to conclude that unlike Israel's government, the IDF does not attach the same severity to this threat following the P5+1 nuclear agreement. Yet Iran does in fact play an important part of the strategy underlying the document.

First, while the IDF does not expect the nuclear threat to come to fruition during the next five-year plan's timeframe, it does call for enhancing deterrence and maintaining preparedness for potential preemptive strikes against "countries with no joint border [with Israel]." Second, the IDF believes that substate actors "supported by Iran" do pose an imminent threat. Privately, its leadership is troubled by the prospect of these actors enjoying Iranian resources unfrozen by the nuclear deal.


The IDF identifies three basic situations for the use of force -- Routine, Emergency, and (full-scale) War -- distinguishable from one another by the scope of military and national resources involved and defined by different logics. Although armed conflicts with substate actors usually fall under "Emergency," the IDF continues to focus its force buildup mostly on "War," but with added versatility for Emergency.

In the latter situation, the IDF could be directed to achieve "military decision" (see below), especially by destroying significant enemy capabilities, or to conduct a limited campaign focusing on strategic targets. Either mission would be designed to eliminate the enemy's will to fight and achieve long-term deterrence. In Gaza, for example, the IDF would seemingly prefer to apply this concept by using a mixture of debilitating firepower and limited ground operations rather than conquering the territory and fully dismantling Hamas's military capabilities.

The IDF strategy document assumes a protracted series of armed conflicts with substate actors and strives to force long lulls by achieving and maintaining credible deterrence. It also envisions building "cumulative" deterrence through a series of unequivocal military victories. Yet the new strategic and operational environment has compelled the IDF to redefine deterrence and the two other traditional pillars of its military strategy (early warning and military decision), and to add a fourth pillar: defense.

Deterrence is now defined in terms relative to the nature and diversity of the threat, unlike its near-binary role in preventing full-scale wars. It requires constant boosting, for which purpose the IDF developed the concept of a "campaign between wars" -- namely, clandestine, covert, and overt activities in Routine situations in order to thwart emerging enemy threats, especially the acquisition of specific arms. Early warning is now an element of intelligence superiority, which is to be achieved before and during any armed conflict.

The term military decision also assumes a more relative character, corresponding to long-term deterrence, while consistent with the traditional Israeli goal of fighting short conflicts (it is often joined by the amorphous term "victory," which the document defines as "achieving the political goals set for the campaign, leading to a post-bellum improved security situation").

The defense pillar has been added to address the significant threat of enemy fire on Israel's heartland. The most important element of this pillar is the ongoing development of a multilayered active defense system against rockets and missiles. If compelled to prioritize what it will defend first in a given conflict (e.g., when facing Hezbollah's enormous rocket arsenal), the IDF would focus on preventing disruption of the war effort and protecting critical national infrastructure before protecting civilian centers.

The document also takes potential enemy conquest of Israeli territory into consideration, including possible evacuation of civilians (a departure from the Israeli ethos), yet it calls for denying the enemy any territorial gain by the end of the confrontation.

Notwithstanding the growing weight of defense, the IDF continues to prioritize offensive action in both the buildup and employment of its forces. In this context, it strives to rebalance the relationship between firepower and ground maneuver, which has in recent years tilted increasingly toward the former with an overemphasis on achieving significant burnout of enemy capabilities over the course of a conflict.

Under the new concept, the two have to reinforce each other, thereby creating synergic and systemic effects. The IDF document sets the goal of preparing tens of thousands of targets in Lebanon and Syria and thousands in Gaza ahead of a conflict, and striking thousands of targets daily during a conflict, including targets of opportunity. To enable this, the IDF is revolutionizing connectivity within and between service branches, combat units, and intelligence assets. Ground maneuvers will be launched from the outset of a conflict (unlike in the 2006 Lebanon war), including a new emphasis on surprise operations aimed at centers of gravity in the enemy's operational or strategic rear, employing significant ground or special forces led by new command structures. The overall offensive concept is based on maintaining Israel's qualitative edge as well as its air, naval, and intelligence superiority, and on ensuring critical mass of forces and capabilities.

Finally, the document breaks new ground in devoting attention to the nonkinetic aspects of armed conflict, adopting a multidisciplinary approach toward it. It regards cyberspace as another front, for which a Cyber Arm is being established. It highlights the need to prepare for the war of perceptions and to thoroughly address legal, humanitarian, and information dimensions; that is, Israel must strive to create and maintain political legitimacy for the use of force in order to enhance the IDF's freedom of action in the current international environment.


The "IDF Strategy" is an important contribution to Israel's strategic thinking and public discourse on national security. It deserves to be solidified by a governmental national security strategy.

The bottom line is that Israel faces extremely complex challenges in a fast-transforming landscape, posing acute strategic, operational, and domestic dilemmas. These challenges are epitomized by Iranian-supported Hezbollah, with its arsenal of over 100,000 rockets and its capacity to fire over 1,500 daily for weeks. As Israel prepares for the consequences of a nuclear deal that could compound existing uncertainties and threats from Iran's proxies, the IDF document should provide a sound basis for bilateral U.S.-Israel strategic dialogue on major Israeli security concerns for the coming years.

Brig. Gen. Michael Herzog, IDF (Ret.), is The Washington Institute's Milton Fine International Fellow. Previously, he served as head of the IDF's Strategic Planning Division and chief of staff to Israel's defense minister, in which capacity he was involved in developing IDF strategy and updating Israel's national security doctrine.

Teaming up with Arab states for Israel's security

Op-ed: Combining intelligence abilities and coordinating preventive activity is the only way to restraint Iran, both in terms of nuclear deal violations and its further contribution to instability in the region.

Major General (ret.) Amnon Reshef

Published: July 29, 2015, Ynet

Beyond the disagreements over the nuclear deal with Iran, one fact is indisputable: The agreement has been signed. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can fight to thwart it in the Congress, a futile battle, thereby deepening both the rift with the Obama administration and the damage to the Israeli deterrence, which is also fed by the image of the intimate relationship between the two countries.

On the other hand, he can choose a more creative outline which will contribute to our security.

It's time to change direction and turn over a new leaf with the administration in Washington, through tight cooperation in monitoring the agreement's implementation by Iran, cooperating to thwart the Iranian subversion in the region, which will likely be stepped up, forming a security compensation package which matches the new reality and the challenges stemming from it, and coordinating diplomatic moves. All this requires us to rebuild the close relationship and restore the credibility and the past commitment for diplomatic-security cooperation.

The new geo-strategic situation, in which Iran grows stronger as a result of the sanctions' removal, creates both a need and an opportunity for change. The Iranian ambitions from hegemony in the Middle East as a regional power, its expected military armament, the increase in the amount of weapons transferred to Hezbollah, Hamas and other terror groups, the constant threat to its neighbors in the Persian Gulf and the rhetoric of destroying Israel should all be countered with a political-security plan.

Israel, the pragmatic Arab states and the Western states have shared enemies and interests: Iran and the radical Islamic terror organizations. We even share the disappointment by the American policy in the Middle East. This infrastructure can be leveraged in favor of Israel's security.

Instead of getting dragged by the events, Israel should initiate a diplomatic move that would allow the "coalition of those concerned by Iran" to concentrate their security efforts. Combining intelligence abilities and coordinating preventive activity is the only way to guarantee that Iran will be restrained, both in terms of agreement violations and in its further contribution to the instability in the region.

For this purpose, Israel must launch a security-diplomatic initiative, while adopting the Saudi-Arab peace initiative as a basis for negotiations. This isn't a "gospel truth." The Arab states' representatives have clarified more than once that accepting the initiative will allow a discussion on the Israeli reservations.

The moderate Arab states are also aware of the fact that the Middle East has changed in the 13 years that have passed since the Arab peace initiative was first introduced. It's clear to everyone that the issue of the Golan Heights, for example, is not on the agenda. The demand to return to the 1967 lines has also changed. The Arab League's monitoring committee has publicly expressed its willingness in principle to adopt the land swap plan.

The issue of the "right of return" isn't even mentioned in the peace initiative. The wording is: "Attaining a just solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees to be agreed upon in accordance with the UN General Assembly Resolution No 194." The statement that the solution will be "agreed upon" points to an Israeli veto on every solution which we find unacceptable.

The Arab leaders have clarified that there is no precondition of reaching a full permanent agreement with the Palestinians before starting a gradual implementation of the initiative. The actual acceptance of the initiative – with the Israeli reservations – can open a new chapter in the regional dialogue.

The combination between a new chapter in our relationship with the administration in Washington and the international community and our willingness to discuss the Arab initiative will encourage and motivate the Obama administration to mediate between the sides. A combination of a local move alongside the suggested regional move will deepen the initiative's contribution to Israel's security even more.

In this context, it will be possible to calm down the situation in the Gaza Strip, before it catches fire again, by inviting our partners to the regional agreement – led by Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan – to take part in the reconstruction of Gaza and the development of the West Bank, as part of agreements with the Palestinian Authority. Here too, tight coordination with Washington is a necessary condition for making progress.

Major General (ret.) Amnon Reshef, the former commanding general of the IDF Armored Corps, is the founder and chairman of the Commanders for Israel's Security movement.

Link to the Article:,7340,L-4684770,00.html

6 Biggest Myths about the Iran Nuclear Deal

 Hardin Lang, Brig. Gen. (ret.) Shlomo Brom

Published: July 29, 2015, The National Interest

The Iran agreement is a historic achievement that rallies the full weight of the major global powers to shut off Iran’s pathway to a nuclear weapon for ten years or more. Few votes in Congress will be as consequential as the one on the Iran nuclear agreement. This agreement represents the best chance to make sure Iran never obtains a weapon and the best chance for Congress to support American diplomacy—without taking any options off the table for this or future presidents. The deal deserves Congressional support. Opponents of the deal have been scathing in their critique. While there are aspects of the deal that merit close review, many of these attacks just don’t stand up to scrutiny.

1) The deal ensures that Iran will get a bomb, sparking nuclear proliferation across the Middle East. The deal takes Iran off the path to a bomb and keeps all U.S. options on the table if Iran cheats. Without this deal, UN inspectors would be kicked out, and Iran would again be within weeks or months of a bomb, with all of its centrifuges spinning and its enriched-uranium stockpiles growing. Without the deal, Iran has enough uranium for ten bombs right now. With the deal, it will immediately have less than what it needs for one bomb. Under the deal, Iran also agrees to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol, so it is bound to not producing nuclear weapons. If it chooses to try, all the options available today—including military action—will be available to the U.S. president in five, ten, fifteen or even thirty years.

2) The United States could have held out for a better deal. This is a strong deal, negotiated between the major world powers and Iran. If the United States walks away, the hard-won international consensus on current sanctions would crumble. Russia and China would reopen trade with Iran, circumventing American and European sanctions. Inspectors would be kicked out, and Iran would have no effective restrictions on its nuclear program.

3) Allowing inspections within twenty-four days gives Iran enough time to hide/dispose of nuclear material. Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain will be under 24/7 surveillance and monitoring. IAEA inspectors will have the right to visit any part of that supply chain immediately. If suspicious activity is detected elsewhere in Iran, Tehran must allow international inspections within twenty-four days. Disposing of nuclear material is different from disposing of illicit drugs or murder weapons: Nuclear materials leave traces that endure for thousands of years. The U.S. intelligence community and IAEA nuclear inspectors are fully confident they can detect nuclear activities well beyond twenty-four days.

4) UN sanctions will not snap back if Iran cheats. Sanctions will snap back. If Iran violates the agreement and the eight-member review board—on which the United States and its allies have a majority—fails to resolve the issue in thirty-five days, the United States and its allies can immediately resume their own sanctions and charge Iran with noncompliance at the UN Security Council. Thirty days later, UN sanctions will automatically snap back unless the Security Council votes to keep them lifted. The United States can veto such a move. In other words, the deal enables the United States and its allies to stop any attempt to shield Iran from the consequences of breaking the agreement.

5) There is a better option to a negotiated settlement. The only viable alternative to diplomacy is an eventual military strike. And if a strike is successful, this would likely set Iran’s nuclear program back by only about two or three years—far less than the deal. After a strike, Iran would likely make a dash for a bomb by reconstituting its nuclear program in even-more-secure facilities. The global consensus on sanctions against Iran would collapse, and Tehran would end up with a nuclear-weapons program and de facto sanctions relief—the worst of all outcomes.

6) This is bad for the security of Israel, and Israelis are united in opposition to the deal. The agreement is good for Israel and its national security. It blocks Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon for a longer period of time than any other available option and commits Iran to permanently renouncing nuclear weapons under IAEA inspections. Should Iran cheat or change its mind in the future, all American and Israeli policy options—including military action—remain open and will be improved with better intelligence gathered under the deal. Israelis are not united against the nuclear deal, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims. Numerous Israeli national-security officials—from the former heads of Mossad and Shin Bet to the former deputy national security adviser and former deputy director-general of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission—have been supportive of the agreement. Without an agreement, the sanctions regime will crumble, and Iran will be free to do as it pleases—leaving Israel far less secure.

Hardin Lang is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. Brig. Gen. (ret.) Shlomo Brom is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv and a Visiting Fellow at the Center for American Progress.

Link to the Article:

Eshki to Netanyahu: “Say Yes to the Saudi Peace Initiative”

If Israel accepts the peace plan and undertakes to implement it, 22Arab states and another 20 Muslim states will undertake to have normal relations with you, You need to accept that we want coexistence between the Arab countries and Israel

Yedioth Ahronoth (p. 10) by Smadar Peri 

Thirteen years after the Saudipeace initiative was first introduced, there are evidently still many important figures in the Arab world who wish to revive it, “Now thatPrime Minister Netanyahu has formed his new government, I am calling on him: Say yes to the Saudi peace initiative. It is valid and exists and has not disappeared with the change of the regime in Saudi Arabia,” said Dr. Anwar Eshki, a prominent Saudi figure. “King Salman and his senior advisers support it. The time has come for Israel to accept it as well. There is no other peace plan.”

Eshki, aged 72, who served as a general in the Saudi army and hasfilled a series of other key positions in the Saudi government in Riyadh , is currently the chairman of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies in Jeddah. He is considered to have very close relations with the royal house. Eshki had no qualms about being interviewed by anIsraeli newspaper, and said: “The issue is important, and a message needs to be conveyed to Netanyahu, to the cabinet ministers and to theIsraeli public that there is a peace plan that is waiting for their approval.”

“If Israel accepts the peace plan and undertakes to implement it, 22Arab states and another 20 Muslim states will undertake to have normal relations with you,” said Eshki in an exclusive interview that he gave toYedioth Ahronoth at the Doha Forum that was convened this week inQatar. “You need to accept that we want coexistence between the Arab countries and Israel.” He also had a message for the skeptics, who do not believe in his vision: “Saudi always keeps the commitments it makes, and you will see, when the time for normalization arrives, we will establish diplomatic relations with Israel along with 22 Arab states as well as commercial cooperation and cultural ties.”

The Saudi peace initiative, which was articulated by King Abdullah in 2002 (while he was still the crown prince), stipulates that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will end and relations between Israel and all the Arab states will be normalized in exchange for an Israeli commitment towithdraw to the 1967 lines. Even though the initiative was unanimously endorsed by all the countries attending the Arab summit meeting and came to be referred to as the “Arab peace initiative,” Israel offered no formal response to it. The reason for that reluctance was the plan’s call for Jerusalem to be divided and for the right of return to be given toPalestinian refugees—two aspects to which government officials inJerusalem are strongly oppos ed.

Now, however, after King Salman rose to power in January and after the establishment of the new government in Israel, there are some who say that the time has arrived to renew the initiative. “People say thatNetanyahu formed a government of extremists. That doesn’t bother me. On the contrary. It could be that that is better for achieving peace because, if Netanyahu and his ministers accept the plan, there will be nobody there to get in their way,” said Eshki. If Netanyahu decides to adopt the Saudi peace initiative, said Eshki, he is going to have toendorse it publicly, such as in an address to the United Nations or inJerusalem.

Eshki is aware of Israel’s reservations, and said: “The peace plan stipulates the evacuation of settlements and their resettlement byPalestinians, but land swaps in keeping with security requirements and with mutual consent are also feasible. And the Palestinians who choose not to return will receive financial compensation.” Eshki said he believed that if Israel were to express its consent in principle to the initiative, negotiations over the “problematic issues” could then be held underSaudi, American, Egyptian and Jordanian auspices. “The parties, including Israel, will determine where the negotiations are to be held,” he said. Eshki added that the Saudi peace initiative was the “most suitable”political resolution  of the conflict, since it was based on UN resolutions.

Eshki served in the past as the special adviser to the Saudi ambassadorin Washing ton, and he also served as a security adviser in the Prime Minister’s Office in Riyadh. He established his strategic studies think tank ten years ago. While the think tank is independent, Eshki said that “our papers reach the highest level of government in Saudi Arabia.”