Interview with former Mossad Chief Danny Yatom, Part II

Click here to listen to Part I of the interview, on the challenge posed by Iran and Israel’s response.

In the second half of Danny Yatom’s interview with BICOM’s Director of Research Toby Greene, and Israel office Deputy Director Richard Pater, the former Mossad chief and Labour MK discusses the regional challenges facing Israel.

International intervention in Syria

  • “I think that the world should take action. Because it is unacceptable by me that democratic states sit idle watching on TV the horrible situation and the misery of the Syrian people and contrary to what they did in Libya, here they do not take any action.”
  • “I’m not sure that the 300 officers – as a monitoring force to monitor the ceasefire – will be able to change the situation. So it looks to me that at the end the world will intervene and once the world will intervene, Assad will fall.”
  • “We do not have any options because we are in a state of war with Syria and if we will intervene immediately Assad will use it as an excuse and will say that what started a year and two months ago was already an Israeli plot. It will help him to convince the innocent people that the blame is not on him but on somebody else. We should not intervene. We cannot intervene. But Turkey and Europe, which is so close to Syria, I think that they should intervene. They should intervene in order to stop the massacre of innocent people.”

The Arab Spring and Israel

  • “The situation that we face today in the Middle East, and in the Arab world, as we see it, is much more complicated, much more challenging and even more dangerous than it was previously. Because we see that the outcome is the rising of Islamist elements. Many of which are extreme elements.”

Egypt’s relations with Israel

  • “Egypt is going to be more hostile to Israel, no doubt about it. But I don’t think the Egyptians will cease the peace treaty… they need it more than Israel needs it. And they need it firstly because to enter now into state of hostility vis-a-vis Israel will put on their economy a burden that they cannot carry.”
  • “Whoever will be the president of Egypt knows very well that if they will hurt and harm the peace between Israel and Egypt they will enter into clashes with the United States and this is also something that they cannot afford.”

Jordan’s response to the Arab Spring

  • “I think they are doing very well till now. It is almost unknown but every day there are disturbances, clashes and riots in Jordan on a small scale. Until now King Abdullah, who is a very wise man, manages the situation well. I think that they will survive it.”
  • “The Arab Spring revolutions, the chain of revolutions, they did not touch any monarchy in the Arab world…. The people in those countries accept monarchy because they were born into a monarchy. They accept the monarchy more than the people in the other countries accepted the totalitarian regimes.”

Israel’s relations with Jordan and the Palestinians

  • “Both vis-a-vis Jordan, and vis-a-vis the Palestinians, due to the fact that we are by far the strongest party in the region, we have to put initiatives on the table and to try and to encourage the Palestinians to come back to the table and to continue discussions. I don’t know what will be the outcome of it, but it’s worth a try. And with Jordan we have to do much more in order to cement and to strengthen, to deepen and to broaden the relations – economic, security relations between Israel and Jordan.”

On the coming elections

  • “Likud will be by far the biggest party, and Netanyahu will have now to choose. And he will have a variety of possibilities because almost all the Zionists parties – including Labour – they say that they will be ready to sit with Netanyahu in the same… government. So for the first time after many, many years Netanyahu will have to choose – and it is going to be a strategic decision – either he prefers a right-wing government or a centre-left government. If he will prefer a centre-left government, I think that potentially, the future for Israel will be bright.”

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