“The War of Independence did not end,” Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said Tuesday, speaking at the traditional Independence Day gathering of senior defense officials.
“The defense establishment and the IDF stand, and will continue to stand, in the face of challenges along our borders and in countries that are further away,” he said.
Yaalon spoke of the Iranian nuclear threat, “The world got a late start dealing with the problem of an Iranian military nuclear program,” he said. “The regime in Tehran does not see the western world as determined to stop the nuclear project, so it allows itself to continue with its plans.
“Only putting the Iranian regime before the dilemma of ‘bomb, or survival’ will lead to the end of the project,” he said.
“The world must take the lead in the standoff with Iran, but Israel must prepare for the possibility that it will need to protect itself alone,” he added.
Yaalon also spoke of the threat posed by Hizbullah and Hamas. “They are armed with tens of thousands of missiles and rockets of various types, and if the order is given they will fire them at our cities and our civilians,” he warned. “Hizbullah is arm of the Tehran regime… Lebanon’s citizens and its leaders must understand that if Hizbullah attacks us – the organization and Lebanon itself will be considered responsible, and will pay the price.”
Regarding internal Israeli politics, he said, “The defense establishment is not unaware of Israel’s economic and social needs, and it must do its part regarding the deficit that was created over the past year. But we must also remember that our qualitative advantage must not deteriorate, because we are likely to find ourselves engaged in military conflicts along our borders, far from them and within them.”
Israel is ready to talk to the Palestinian Authority, he said. “The state of Israel is ready to start negotiations tomorrow, direct talks with no preconditions with our Palestinian neighbors, to try to bring historic peace and a permanent agreement, meaning, from our perspective, the recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish nation, an end to the conflict and to the demands, and an answer for our security needs.”
“Unfortunately,” he added, “it does not seem that the leadership of the Palestinian Authority is really and truly aiming for the end of the conflict. In any case, we will continue to turn over every stone to try to end the conflict. But if we go into the diplomatic process, we must do so with open eyes.”