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Granted Israel’s Minister of Internal Security Avi Dichter is a member of Kadima but he has a strong record of being his own guy and of protecting Israel. During his military service, he served in Sayeret Matkal, and refused the offer of his unit commander, Ehud Barak, to participate in an Officer Course (a position entailing less direct combat situations). He received the Israeli equivalent of a Medal of Honor for his role in rescuing a team from behind enemy line.

Thats why I am kind of confused regarding why he is so optimistic about the prospects for peace. The case he sets is quite clear:

* During the last 7-10 years we have had to deal with a new player in the Middle East, Iran – the biggest terror state in the world today. Khaled Mashaal, the external leader of Hamas, started to increase the level of coordination and cooperation with Iran in 2001 and today he is a frequent flyer from Damascus to Tehran. Mashaal is trying to implement the Iranian strategy toward Israel in Gaza, in the same way as Hassan Nasrallah is implementing the Iranian strategy in Lebanon.

* It is well understood by Mahmoud Abbas that if the West Bank is going to continue to serve as a base for terror attacks against Israel, Israel is not going to ease the pressure. Israel is not going to bleed for Abbas. We are not going to count our fatalities and say we are waiting until Abbas builds up his own security forces.

* In 2005 Israel disengaged totally from the Gaza Strip. Nevertheless, the Palestinians launched 1,400 rockets at Israel. What did they achieve with those rockets? Tough pressure by the Quartet countries and many other countries, a rejection by the United Nations, and tough responses by the State of Israel whenever we felt it was necessary.

* I have been meeting and talking with Palestinians for 31 years. As I see it, the probability of setting up a peaceful situation between Israel and the PA is much stronger than the probability that we are going to get into another round of violence with the PA.

* The Palestinians know they have no chance to build themselves as a nation without a peace agreement with Israel. However, one barrier to an agreement is the way that Hamas has been influenced by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard for the past six years. The external leadership of Hamas in Damascus is much more extremist than the leadership in Gaza.

* I am optimistic because I believe that the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have some common interests with the State of Israel. Our partners on the Palestinian side know very well our limits and our red lines. They know that Israel is ready to go a long way towards them but not the whole way.

But I just don’t buy it. After you read his report below–please let me know what you think?


Components of Domestic Security in the Age of Global Jihadism
Minister of Internal Security Avi Dichter

Israel Faces Iran in the North
During the last fifty years, when Israel looked at the Middle East, it looked at its closest neighbors – Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. However, during the last 7-10 years we have had to deal with a new player in the Middle East, Iran – the biggest terror state in the world today. However, Iran is not an Arab country and the threat to the Arab world that Iran creates as it tries to develop nuclear capabilities is understood especially in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf countries, Jordan, and Egypt.

Israel is facing a new situation with an Iran that is activating two arms against Israel: a northern arm and a southern arm. The northern arm began building at the end of the 1980s with the rise of Hizbullah, which used to be a terror organization, but today is more aptly described as an army of terrorists. Hizbullah has all the capabilities and infrastructure of an army. Iranian Revolutionary Guard trainers are operating in Lebanon and Hizbullah terrorists go to Iran for training. Thus, Israel faced state-of-the-art Iranian capabilities during the Second Lebanon War last summer.

While Hizbullah is an army, they are still terrorists because they still use the main systems that terrorists use: fighting from within villages; surrounding themselves with civilians as human shields in order to prevent Israelis from responding to their attacks; and using kidnapping as a tool of warfare.

Iran is trying to create a direct threat towards Israel through its battalion in Lebanon called Hizbullah. Hizbullah controls South Lebanon, parts of the Beqaa Valley, and some neighborhoods in Beirut itself.

Despite the number of international troops in Lebanon, many of the points in UN Security Council Resolution 1701 are still far from being implemented. But I believe the level of deterrence that Israel has created with Hizbullah is probably the main positive gain from the war in Lebanon. In the wake of the war, the most important evidence that something has changed regarding deterrence was when Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah said at the end of the war: “If I knew what the Israeli response to the kidnapping of the two soldiers was going to be, I wouldn’t have given the order to kidnap them.”

The Threat to Israel from the West Bank

Iranian activities against Israel were also supposed to be based in both Gaza and the West Bank, but since the horrible terror attack on Passover night in March 2002, Israel changed its strategy against the terrorists in the West Bank. During all these years of violence, the West Bank has been the source of the greatest number of losses and injuries to Israeli civilians. However, since Operation Defensive Shield was launched in April 2002 against terrorists in the West Bank, the situation has changed dramatically there.

When Yasser Arafat was chairman of the PA and Mahmoud Abbas was number two, during the first three years of the intifada Israel suffered 900 fatalities, almost all of them civilians. Proportionally, in American terms, this is close to 50,000 fatalities. We thought that things were going to work with the PA under Arafat, and we were mistaken. Since we decided to change the situation with Operation Defensive Shield, we have cut our losses dramatically. However, since the disengagement in August 2005, 85 percent of Israeli casualties have been due to terror attacks launched from the West Bank.

Israel Faces Iran in the South

Khaled Mashaal, the external leader of Hamas, started to increase the level of coordination and cooperation with Iran in 2001 and today he is a frequent flyer from Damascus to Tehran. Iran initially tried to have this coordination operate indirectly through Hizbullah, but Hamas insisted on having its own direct channel to the Revolutionary Guards and the Ministry of Intelligence in Tehran.

Ismail Haniyeh is not the leader of Hamas. He is the prime minister, elected due to the fact that he was the right-hand man of Sheikh Yassin. Khaled Mashaal is the leader of Hamas. He is the one who gives the orders and sends the money. He is trying to implement the Iranian strategy toward Israel in Gaza, in the same way as Hassan Nasrallah is implementing the Iranian strategy in Lebanon.

Since the disengagement, terrorists from Hamas now have the opportunity to cross from Gaza into Egypt and then fly to Tehran for training. In parallel, there has been a flow of weapons smuggled from Sinai into Gaza: anti-tank rockets, anti-aircraft rockets, a lot of ammunition, and ten tons of explosives. Hamas is emulating what Hizbullah built in Lebanon.

The Palestinians and Israel

Who is going to win? The PA led by Abbas and Fatah, or Iran and Hamas, which are pressing to create a new situation in Gaza and the West Bank, and especially to try to change the PA into an authority led by Hamas leaders instead of Abbas? In the West Bank, Israel has succeeded in creating a new situation which probably assists Fatah because many Hamas terrorists in the West Bank have been rooted out and put in jail.

It is well understood by Abbas and his people that if the West Bank is going to continue to serve as a base for terror attacks against Israel, Israel is not going to ease the pressure. We are going to use additional pressure because Israel is not going to bleed for Abbas. We are not going to count our fatalities and say we are waiting until Abbas builds up his own security forces. That is not going to happen.

I have been meeting and talking with Palestinians for 31 years. I’ve spent more years in Gaza than in Tel Aviv. As I see it, the probability of setting up a peaceful situation between Israel and the PA is much stronger than the probability that we are going to get into another round of violence with the PA.

In September 1993, I was in charge of the southern division of the Shin Bet and I was told by my boss, the head of the Shin Bet, that an agreement was going to be signed between Israel and the Palestinians. I was the one who was in charge of catching all the fugitives in Gaza and I was suddenly told I had to create a different situation and start talking with the leaders of Fatah, Hamas, and all the others – just like that. We called them and they came to our headquarters, the same people that we ran after, the same people that killed and injured Israelis and gave orders to launch terror attacks just days before. And we made this switch in days.

The Palestinians know they have no chance to build themselves as a nation without a peace agreement with Israel. The majority of the Palestinian people are not as extremist as Hamas. However, one barrier to an agreement is the way that Hamas has been influenced by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard for the past six years. The external leadership of Hamas in Damascus is much more extremist than the leadership in Gaza. But even the Hamas extremists know very well that there is no way for them to live safe and sound in Gaza without a peace agreement with Israel.

In 2005 Israel disengaged totally from the Gaza Strip. We disengaged from the Philadelphi corridor, which enabled the PA to directly share a border with Egypt. Nevertheless, the Palestinians launched 1,400 rockets at Israel. What did they achieve with those rockets? Tough pressure by the Quartet countries and many other countries, a rejection by the United Nations, and tough responses by the State of Israel whenever we felt it was necessary.

That is why I am optimistic, because I believe that the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have some common interests with the State of Israel. Our partners on the Palestinian side know very well our limits and our red lines. They know that Israel is ready to go a long way towards them but not the whole way.

The key question is: Are we going to get tired first or are they? I can assure you that we are not going to get tired.

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