Monday, March 18, 2013

Israel's New Defense Minister 'Boogie' Ya'alon Takes Over

One of the best appointments the new Netanyahu government has made thus far is that of Defense Minister Moshe 'Boogie Ya'alon.

A former Chief of Staff of the IDF and a former paratrooper and member of the elite Sayeret Matkal special forces unit, he is a no nonsense soldier who was forced out of the Chief of Staff's position because of his objections to the Gaza withdrawal.

He's also on record as saying that thinking that Israel just needs to give one more piece of land and then it will have peace is a kind of "virus."

Ya'alon went public yesterday, sharing thoughts on Israel's security situation and his priorities as defense minister:

The new defense minister provided the public with a glimpse of his priorities on Sunday, when he used a Facebook post to list the defense issues he will soon be tackling.

First on the list was, naturally, the Iranian nuclear program, which threatens Israel, the Middle East, and global security as a whole. According to unconfirmed yet widespread reports, Ya'alon has, until now, been in the camp of those opposed to a military strike against Iran's nuclear program, preferring to let the US take the lead.

However, even if the reports are true, Ya'alon's stance could change in light of new intelligence or new developments.

Secondly, Ya'alon made reference to the Middle East instability that is washing over nearly all of Israel's neighbors. Under [former defense minister] Ehud Barak's watch, the IDF has made good progress in shifting its focus towards emerging terror threats from Syria - home to an arsenal of chemical weapons - and the Sinai Peninsula, and Ya'alon will be seeking to continue the preparations.

Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza are threats that cannot be separated from the regional instability. Hezbollah, armed with over 60,000 rockets and well trained guerrillas, remains the most formidable enemy in Israel's immediate area. The IDF has spent recent years intensively training itself for the next encounter with the Shi'ite terror group, which is currently attempting to target Israeli civilians overseas. Ya'alon will be briefed in full on these preparations.

The last defense issue mentioned by Ya'alon is the "Israeli - Palestinian issue," - a reference to the stalled diplomatic process vis-a-vis the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. Ya'alon's position on this issue is well known - he holds that the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah is not a viable peace partner at this time.

Yasser Koach, Aluf Ya'alon!

The Palestinian Authority not only isn't seriously interested in negotiating anything or making any concessions, only in having their demands met as Mahmoud Abbas had said many times.

Not only that, but it's questionable whom Mahmoud Abbas speaks for anyway. His term as President ran out three years ago, Fatah's support even in the Palestinian occupied areas of Judea and Samaria is lessening while that of Hamas is growing, and there's no possibility of him delivering on his end of any deal that was made even if he wanted to.

Ya'alon, who was IDF chief of staff when the Second Intifada was defeated is exactly right to put them at the lowest priority.

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