Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former national security advisor talked about regional challenges facing Israel’s security at an event in New York City last week organized by Friends of European Leadership Network
Brig. Gen. Jacob Nagel, a current visiting professor at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, discussed the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS), as well as Syria and Iran.
Of the latter, he called it a country that does not want peace. Rather, it is “a country that wants to annihilate Israel,” and said that Israel cannot accept an agreement with Syria that allows Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah, to remain as ground forces in the country because they are threatening the security of the Jewish state.
He also explained why he believes that Israel’s strategic situation has never been better, bolstered by the support of U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration. And he noted circumstances such as Israel becoming a “superpower” in the field of energy; the fact that Israel has the strongest military in the region; the withstanding peace agreement between Israel, Egypt and Jordan; and the strong Israel-Russia alliance.
Weighing in on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Nagel said for negotiations to begin, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas must acknowledge Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish democratic state. Abbas’s refusal to do so is the reason why he and Netanyahu have talked no more than seven hours in the last eight years, said the officer.
Addressing the ongoing violence coming from Hamas in the Gaza Strip—both protests at the border and the barrage of rocket fire earlier this month—Nagel said, “Why is there no solution? Because they don’t want a solution. They share the same view as the chief of the Israeli navy: that the future of Israel is in the sea. This is where their mind is at—that we should be in the sea. Not living.”
“They don’t want the 1967 borders; they want Jaffa, they want Nahariya, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem,” he continued. “The only chance for peace in the West Bank, Gaza or with the Palestinian Authority is if someone on the inside will rise up and say enough, we cannot get 100%. We cannot get the right of return. This is Israel, and Israel is here to stay.”
He added that if Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates sign an accord, “the Palestinians will understand their support is gone, and maybe they will come to the table.”
As for Hamas, he berated them for using funding—given to help their humanitarian crisis—to instead build more missiles and tunnels in the effort to attack Israel.
Nagel, who served as the head of Israel’s National Security Council, led negotiations and signed the agreement to give $38 billion in military aid to Israel from 2018 to 2027.
He explained that Israel is focused on toughening its military, economic, political, social and spiritual strength, and that the “Israeli force” is based on four pillars: deterrence, early warning, intelligence, and defensive power and offensive power.
“We have to be prepared; Israel doesn’t have the luxury to lose one war and then win another war,” he said. “The first war that we lose will be the last one. We have to be prepared to fight regular armies, paramilitary, terrorists, terror along our borders and all over the world, in addition to cyber attacks and, of course, threats to our legitimacy.”
By Shiryn Ghermezian/JNS.org