Gilad: PA Opposes Terror, and is Fighting It
In a presentation Wednesday night, the Director of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau, Amos Gilad, said that Israel owed a great deal to Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas, whose security forces were heavily involved in fighting terror. “We had been fighting terror for years, but to little avail; suicide bombers operated freely. But in the end we were able to subdue them,” Gilad said, “thanks largely to our security connections with the Palestinian Authority. Both Abbas and his Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, oppose terror and they have been fighting Hamas and other terror groups. They realize that terror will destroy their regime, and the possibility of peace with Israel.”
Gilad was speaking at a conference on fighting terror sponsored by the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center, where he dismissed the concept of “Jordan as Palestine. I have heard experts advocating this point of view, but I consider this absolute nonsense. The Palestinians will never accept it, and Jordan itself is a model of success in fighting terror. My advice is to cooperate fully with our partners in order to better fight terror,” Gilad said.
There are actually two “Palestinian Authorities,” Gilad said. One, run by Abbas, genuinely wants peace with Israel, while the other, run in Gaza by Hamas, was more of a pan-Islamic movement, and was interested not in the welfare of the Arabs of the region, but in reconstituting the “greater Arab nation,” the Caliphate, under the auspices of a radical Islamic leader. “As long as Hamas is around it will continue to seek Israel's destruction,” Gilad said. That doesn't mean the prospect of constant terror, he added. “As long as they feel weaker than Israel, it will be possible to come to a ceasefire with them; they are flexible in their tactics. When they feel stronger than Israel, they will not hesitate to confront us.”
A more immediate threat, he said, were the thousands of rockets aimed at Israel's population centers – including the center of the country, which will not be immune to attack in a future conflict with either Hamas in the south, or Hizbullah in the north. “Residents of the north and south are used to dealing with missile attacks, and we must develop ways to defend residents of the center to prepare for such attacks. We have technology that can fight missiles, but you need a multi-pronged approach to deal with this problem,” he said.
Similarly, Gilad said that Israel should do whatever it could to ensure that the peace treaty with Egypt remains in place. As shaky as the treaty is, Gilad said, it was still preferable to the alternative. “We must preserve good relations with Egypt, with whom we are working to find security solutions for the Sinai Peninsula.” Israel's relationship with Turkey has deteriorated as well, Gilad said, and the situation must be dealt with “gently.” As far as Iran is concerned, Gilad said, “they represent a major threat, and the leadership there is doing everything to obtain nuclear weapons.”