Tag Archives: Middle East

Russia: We warned the Yanks about Islamic State

A joke making the rounds among Russian officials and hacks who take a keen interest in what is going on in the Middle East these days goes something like this: How will the Yanks deal with the Islamic State group?

They will create “Islamic State 2”, a bigger and better armed group, and let it deal with the original Islamic State group. And what happens when “Islamic State 2” turns against them as it happened with the original Islamic State? They will create “Islamic State 3”, and so on.

But seriously, the rise and spread of the Islamic State group is no laughing matter. Now that the US and its allies have finally woken up to the dangers of the spread of the extremist group, the worry in Moscow is that the hotheads in the Pentagon and at Nato headquarters in Brussels will decide to start hitting Islamic State positions in Syria along with “other targets” there as well – for instance, Syrian army positions.

US President Barack Obama has already announced his plan to deal with the group, promising to lead a “broad coalition” that will “roll back this terrorist threat”. In Moscow, the fear is that the US will seize this opportunity to intervene in Syria.

The Libyan scenario

According to Valeriy Fenenko from the Moscow Centre for International Security, the US can actually use the presence of the Islamic State group in Syria as a pretext to implement the “Libyan scenario”.

“The Americans are bound to try to compensate for their failure last fall,” he says. “At first, it will be air strikes against terrorists and then, in parallel, it may amount to helping the moderate opposition. The US may start a creeping interference, like it happened in Bosnia,” he said.

In any event, Russian diplomatic efforts are in full swing. According to one Russian source, Moscow is trying to prevent possible air strikes in Syria by the US, UK and others, in the same way it did last year when the danger of air strikes was growing by the day.

“Our people in Arab and European capitals were desperately trying to find some sort of solution last year,” he said. “The threat of a regional war that could escalate into a world war was taken very seriously by the Kremlin. And this scenario is in the cards again.”

The feeling in Moscow is that the recent Nato summit in Newport, Wales, missed out on a great opportunity to involve Russia in finding a solution to the spread of the Islamic State group and other militant groups associated with it across Iraq and the Middle East generally. Not to mention, the very real threat of these violent men entering European countries, and even reaching the US.

“The Russians have been warning the Americans ever since the civil war broke out in Syria that it was very dangerous to arm the opposition there,” one former Russian general who was in charge of anti-terrorist operation told me. “There was no chance that the arms destined for the so-called moderate opposition would not end up with the likes of the Islamic State. Not to mention that lots of it was coming as well from ‘liberated’ Libya.”

The same bandits

What worries Russian officials is the stubborn refusal of the Obama administration to talk to President Bashar al-Assad’s government about a possible joint effort in defeating the Islamic State group in Syria.

As Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov said recently, it doesn’t make sense for the West to help the Iraqi government to fight the Islamic State group but deny cooperation to Assad who is fighting “the same bandits”.

Some Russian analysts are saying that the bigger problem of the current crisis is that the Islamic State group runs its recruitment campaigns not just in the Middle East but in Europe as well.

Different figures are cited over the number of Europeans who have joined the ranks of the group in the past several months, but if you consider that the number of fighters has risen – according to Russian estimates, from about 6,000 in June to over 30,000 at present – it can be assumed that we are talking about thousands of young Muslims travelling from Europe to fight in what they believe is a holy war.

The senseless war in Gaza has probably indirectly boosted the Islamic State group’s recruitment campaign, making it easier to claim that the West and Israel are hellbent on wiping out the Muslims in the Middle East. It remains unclear as to why Israel’s armed forces attacked Gaza during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and conducted blanket air strikes that were bound to take a heavy toll on the civilian population.

In the opinion of Russian experts, this looked more like a smokescreen for US failures in Iraq and Libya rather than an attempt to wipe out Hamas’ arsenal and top commanders. From a military point of view, Benjamin Netanyahu’s war achieved absolutely nothing, except perhaps giving Hamas a boost in popularity.

The danger for Russia from the Islamic State group is that some of its members come from Chechnya and Dagestan, the two Muslim republics in the south of Russia, and there is a risk that the group can find sympathisers and supporters there and even start to build a network across the Caucasus.

That is why Moscow is now calling on all parties to make a joint effort to destroy the Islamic State group before it becomes truly international.

However, as the president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems Konstantin Sivkov points out, the military option is only part of the solution in tackling the Islamic State group.

He says that air strikes would not be enough and that it’s crucial to also fight its ideology and cut off its finances that are now flowing through perfectly legal banking channels.  The war against the Islamic State group is fraught with dangers. It might get out of control and drag the whole region into a much wider conflict.

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Sir Winston Churchill ‘s family feared he might convert to Islam

The discovery of a letter to Sir Winston Churchill from his future sister-in-law has thrown new light on his fascination with Islam and Muslim culture

He is indelibly associated with the fight to preserve Britain and its Empire from Nazi invasion and his subsequent denouncement of Soviet totalitarianism’s Iron Curtain.

In the public eye, Sir Winston Churchill’s long political career earned him a place among the greatest of Britons.

But what may come as a surprise is that he was a strong admirer of Islam and the culture of the Orient — such was his regard for the Muslim faith that relatives feared he might convert.

The revelation comes with the discovery of a letter to Churchill from his future sister-in-law, Lady Gwendoline Bertie, written in August 1907, in which she urges him to rein in his enthusiasm.

In the letter, discovered by Warren Dockter, a history research fellow at Cambridge University, she pleads: “Please don’t become converted to Islam; I have noticed in your disposition a tendency to orientalise [fascination with the Orient and Islam], Pasha-like tendencies, I really have.”

Lady Gwendoline, who married Churchill’s brother Jack, adds: “If you come into contact with Islam your conversion might be effected with greater ease than you might have supposed, call of the blood, don’t you know what I mean, do fight against it.”

In a letter to Lady Lytton in the same year Churchill wrote: “You will think me a pasha [rank of distinction in the Ottoman Empire]. I wish I were.”

Churchill’s fascination led him and his close friend Wilfrid S. Blunt, the poet and radical supporter of Muslim causes, to dressing in Arab clothes in private while in each other’s company. Dr Dockter said of the letter from Lady Gwendoline: “Churchill had fought in Sudan and on the North West frontier of India so had much experience on being in ‘Islamic areas’.

“But during this period Churchill was in the Liberal phase of his career, having switched to the Liberals in 1904.

“He often came to loggerheads on imperial policies with hard-line imperialists such as Frederick Lugard, the High Commissioner of Northern Nigeria. Churchill was opposed to Lugard’s punitive expeditions against Islamic tribes in northern Nigeria.”

In a letter to Lady Lytton in the same year Churchill wrote: “You will think me a pasha [rank of distinction in the Ottoman Empire]. I wish I were.” The Sir Winston Churchill Archive Trust

The letter was discovered by Dr Dockter while researching his forthcoming book, Winston Churchill and the Islamic World: Orientalism, Empire and Diplomacy in the Middle East.

He points out that Lady Gwendoline’s concerns may not have been so wide of the mark. Not only did Churchill appear to regard Islam and Christianity as equals – a surprisingly progressive notion for the time – but he also admired the military prowess and history of expansion of the Ottoman Empire.

In October 1940, as Britain faced its darkest hour against Nazi Germany, Churchill approved plans to build a mosque in central London and set aside £100,000 for the project.

He continued to back the building of what became the London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park – which he hoped would win support for Britain in the Muslim world at a crucial moment – even in the face of public criticism.

In December 1941, he told the House of Commons: “Many of our friends in Muslim countries all over the East have already expressed great appreciation of this gift.”

Churchill’s attitude may appear hypocritical, given his forthright defence of the British Empire – which at its height ruled over millions of Muslims across India, Egypt and the Middle East.

In his book The River War (1899) – his account of the frontier wars of India and Sudan – he was scathing of the fundamentalist, ultra conservative Mahdiyya form of Islam adopted by the Dervish population of North Africa.

He states: “How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries … Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce … The influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it.”

Lady Gwendeline Spencer Churchill (National Portrait Gallery London)

But Dr Dockter says a closer examination of Churchill’s attitude to the wider Muslim world reveals it to be “in stark contrast to the purely imperialistic and orientalist perspective of many of his contemporaries”.

In his book, he states: “His views of Islamic people and culture were an often paradoxical and complex combination of imperialist perceptions composed of typical orientalist ideals fused with the respect, understanding and magnanimity he had gained from his experiences in his early military career, creating a perspective that was uniquely Churchillian.”

The revelation that Churchill had a close affinity for Muslim culture comes at a time when tensions between the three great monotheistic faiths, Christianity, Judaism and Islam are greater than they have been for centuries.

Ironically, many of the fault lines between Islam and the West have their roots in the world Churchill helped shape after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the redrawing of the Middle East at the end of the First World War.

The settlements between the region’s colonial powers, brokered by Churchill, with T E Lawrence – “Lawrence of Arabia” – as an adviser, gave birth, in Dr Dockter’s words, to “the Middle East we know, warts and all”.

Sir Winston Churchill in Bangalore, India in 1897

Dr Dockter, who assisted Boris Johnson on his book The Churchill Factor, said: “Not many people are aware that Churchill and T E Lawrence were friends or that they worked together to solve the riddles of the Middle Eastern settlements. Understanding these settlements is paramount to understanding the legacy of Britain in the Middle East.”

Of course, Churchill did not convert to Islam, and Dr Dockter concludes that his fascination was “largely predicated on Victorian notions, which heavily romanticised the nomadic lifestyle and honour culture of the Bedouin tribes”.

Such was his limited understanding of Islam that as colonial secretary during the early 1920s he had to ask what the difference was between Shia and Sunni Muslims, the two major groupings whose long-standing animosity is currently playing out in Syria and Iraq.

As Dr Dockter points out, at least he had the good sense to ask the question in the first place, regarding an issue which bedevils the West’s involvement in the region to this day.

‘UN resolution on Palestinian state is dangerous – even if US plans to veto it’

As an observant Jew with children in Jewish schools in Paris, he is worried about anti-Semitism in his home country and the popularity of radical Islam. He’s also worried about his government’s relations with the other country in which he has citizenship, Israel – especially France’s plan to ask the UN Security Council to call for a Palestinian state on the 1949 armistice lines.

Habib voiced his concerns to French President François Hollande while the two were returning from a visit to Italy on Sunday.

“I tried to tell the president on our flight that, in my opinion, it is counterproductive to go to the UN and try to force Israel’s hand. The great powers should push parties to negotiate, that is the only way to reach a good agreement. I think he listened. He said he would update me,” Habib told The Jerusalem Post from his office in Paris the next day.

Habib said he got the impression from Hollande that France thinks the US will veto its resolution anyway, but the MP maintained that the government would be making a mistake to pressure Israel in this way, even if it is certain it will be vetoed.

According to Habib, the UN resolution would give the Palestinians the state they want, with nothing in return – without them recognizing Israel as the Jewish state or giving up the right of return.

Instead of a UN resolution, France should push both sides to negotiate, which is the only way to bring peace, he posited.

At the same time, Habib is not very optimistic about the possible outcome of such talks.

“Israel wants and always wanted peace, but I don’t think it’s possible now,” he contended. “In the meantime, we should try to encourage coexistence to bring real peace, which would mean living side by side. [The Palestinians] don’t want any Jew to live in Gaza or Judea and Samaria; that’s not peace.”

“Whoever wants peace has to understand Jerusalem can never be divided and we need freedom of religion for all, like we have under Israeli sovereignty,” he stressed.

Habib told Hollande that Israel is ready for real peace, and proved so in the past by evacuating towns in Gaza where Israelis were born and raised. However, he delineated that the conflict is clearly not about land – otherwise the Gaza disengagement and generous offers by prime ministers Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak would have brought peace.

“Everyone wants an agreement and it’s very complicated.

The fact is that for 70 years, no one has succeeded,” he sighed.

“I explained to the president, as a French MP, that Israel is the only state in the region – where thousands of women and children are being killed – that has the same values as we do,” Habib continued. “Hamas is like Islamic State and Boko Haram, and wants Shari’a; negotiating with them is a bad idea. The world has to understand that Israel is in a hostile environment. It’s a small state, and the only one in the world for the Jewish people.”

Israel will not give up on its security and its land for “fantasies”; as a small country, it “doesn’t have the luxury of making mistakes.”

“Israel is like the life insurance of the Jewish people. I am convinced that if the State of Israel existed at the time, the Holocaust would have been impossible,” he added.

Habib asserted that Europeans can be naïve and ignore the lessons of the past, which is why they don’t understand how important it is that Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East – where he emphasized that everyone else is either a dictator or an extremist.

That naïveté applies to the Iran nuclear talks as well.

Habib expressed pride in France’s stance in the negotiations, saying his country is relatively alert, but he is concerned about the American position and Russian dominance in the negotiations.

“We all want an agreement with Iran, but it has to be a good one – and this is not a good one. We have to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and all experts and reports say they are on the way to getting one,” he pointed out.

“I don’t think we’re heading towards [a deal] that looks effective. Iran will get all its money back and will be ready for the minute it is allowed to have weapons.”

Habib compared the brewing Iran deal to the 1938 Munich Agreement: “Everyone wanted to prevent a war, but we still got one.”

The French MP postulated that a bad deal with Iran puts the whole world in danger, not just Israel.

“How can a country like the US allow something like this?” he wondered. “I don’t understand it.”

IF HABIB’S positions seem very similar to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s, there’s a reason for that: Both grew up on the philosophy of Likud forebear Ze’ev Jabotinsky, and the two have been close personal friends for over 20 years.

Habib’s father, Emanuel Habib, was a leader of the Tunisian Jewish community in France and a well-known Revisionist Zionist who was friends with prime minister Menachem Begin.

Habib, 54, joined the Jabotinsky- founded Betar youth movement as a teen; he made aliya in the late-1970s, when he finished high school in France, and studied industrial engineering at the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology.

He eventually became an executive at Citizen Watches and the Groupe Vendome luxury jewelry brand, all the while engaging in activism in the French Jewish community through the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF).

It was through that activism that Habib met Netanyahu in the early 1990s, and became friends with him and his wife, Sara.

In 2013 Habib was elected a member of the French National Assembly, as part of the centrist UDI party, representing French expats in Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, San Marino, Turkey, the Holy See and Israel – which has more French citizens than all the other areas combined. The MP said he is proud to represent constituents from places that are central to all three monotheistic religions.

When asked if he coordinates his political actions with Netanyahu, Habib’s response made it clear he was sensitive to accusations of dual loyalty.

“I ask the prime minister’s opinion and I give him mine, but he’s the prime minister of Israel and I’m an MP in France,” he began, but then continued to detail the dynamics between them.

“We talk, and of course we share values; France and Israel have the same goal [of peace].

I love France very much. I was born there, and it is my first language, but there is no problem loving both countries.

France and Israel have friendly relations.”

“I am a member of the French Parliament and Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, have been among my closest friends for 23 years – well before he became prime minister,” he revealed.

“Personally, I have learned a lot from him and gained a lot of useful experience at his side.

“This is why I am very grateful to him. I strongly believe that Netanyahu, who is still young, will [go down] in history as one of Israel’s greatest prime ministers, and will deeply mark Israel history.

I truly know that under his leadership, the people of Israel and the Jewish people worldwide are in safe hands and can sleep peacefully.

“As a Jew and as a French-Israeli binational, it is an honor for me to count him among my inner circle,” continued Habib.

“And I was touched when he said last week to [former French president Nicolas] Sarkozy, when the three of us met: ‘We are like brothers.’” As for political issues, “I talk to the prime minister often and I try to explain France’s concerns to him. The French government has good intentions and wants peace, but they don’t understand it’s not just about territory. My deep belief is this is, fundamentally, a religious war.”

AS AN observant Jew in the French National Assembly at a time when anti-Semitism in Europe is on the rise, Habib has received death threats and must be accompanied by bodyguards in France.

Habib said the attacks on a Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012 and the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in Paris earlier this year are tied to demonization of Israel.

“In [Operation Protective Edge], the media just showed dead bodies of Palestinian children all the time. Any normal person is pained to see a child killed, but the media only showed that, not the Grads and [other] rockets shot at Israel. That is why the French media holds part of responsibility in the rise of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic feelings.

“These pictures of children, trapped in a city under fire and sometimes killed, have been used as a justification for recent anti-Semitic attacks in France – for example, in last January’s attack on Hyper Cacher,” he explained.

As for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, calling for a boycott of a country is considered illegal discrimination in France, and in most cases French courts do not allow boycotts to continue – but the problem is a moral one at its core, Habib detailed.

The MP pointed to atrocities throughout the Middle East and Africa and said the UN hardly ever condemns them, but focuses on Israel.

“French people don’t hear that 300,000 people were killed in Syria and that Islamic State is crucifying Christians like they did 2,000 years ago.

They think Israel is the source of the world’s problems, when the Palestinians are responsible for the conflict,” he lamented. “War in the Middle East is not about territory, it is about religion.”

“This is a moral problem for everyone, not just Jews.

“The world needs to open its eyes. I’m not just worried about French Jews, I’m worried about France, my country, which is facing a Islamist threat,” he stated, clarifying that “of course not all Muslims are jihadis, but It is a lot of people… There are thousands of cases in France.”

We can’t know for sure. It is a lot of people… There are thousands of cases in France.

This is a phenomenon,” he warned.

“You can criticize the government, but so much attention is focused on the tiny, sole Jewish state that has been fighting for its existence for 70 years. People used to say Jews poisoned wells or put Christian blood in matzot. Today they blame a tiny state for all that is happening in the world,” Habib said.

Putin called Obama

Putin called Obama on Thursday, according to Russian news site TASS.

This was the first time the two leaders spoke in four months.

Putin reportedly brought up the spread of the Islamic State’s influence in the Middle East, according to The New York Times.

Ultimately, the two leaders agreed to have Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the US Secretary of State John Kerry meet to further discuss the issue.

They also had a “detailed” discussion regarding the situation in Syria and the Iranian nuclear problem. Russia and the US have not seen eye-to-eye with either of the two cases.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the two leaders also discussed the ongoing Ukraine crisis, which flared up once again in early June.

“President Obama reiterated the need for Russia to fulfill its commitments under the Minsk agreements, including the removal of all Russian troops and equipment from Ukrainian territory,” according to the White House.

ukraine

According to the Kremlin, the two leaders agreed that US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasian will soon be in touch to discuss the fulfillment of the Minsk agreement.

The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told TASS that, overall, the conversation was “constructive.” He added that Putin told Obama that the assumption about Russian troops in Ukraine is “a delusion.”

This comes slightly more than a week after Simon Ostrovksy‘s Vice News documentary on “Selfie Soldiers,” in which he followed a Russian soldier’s social media trail and reenacted the photos he took in Ukraine.

“American officials hope Mr. Putin may see the rise of the Islamic State as enough of a threat to now be willing to apply pressure on Mr. Assad, but they also suspected his renewed interest in the issue may be a way of distracting from Ukraine,” according to The New York Times.

Strange Bedfellows – Middle-East ‘Frenemies’

United Against Islamic State

The enemy of your enemy is your… frenemy; and so it is across the Middle East as the WSJ notes the spread of The Islamic State has united many parties once at odds with each other to become ‘strange bedfellows’.

Strange Bedfellows – Parties that display friction or outright aggression toward one another are finding themselves aligned in a desire to counter Islamic State.

U.S. and Iran
The U.S. and Iran share an interest in fostering an Iraqi government strong enough to fend off Islamic State.

U.S. and Syria
The U.S. and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad share an interest in quashing Islamic State in Syria, even if the regime appears to put a higher priority on fighting other rebel groups.

Israel and Egypt
Israel and Egypt have come together to oppose Hamas, and they now have a similar long-term interest to do the same in confronting Islamic State.

Syria, Kurds, Turkey and Iraq
Turkey and Syria, long fearful of building up the region’s Kurds, have a shared interest in building up the Kurdish Peshmerga to combat a more immediate threat, Islamic State. Iraq has acquiesced.

Turkey and Qatar
Turkey and Qatar suddenly have a shared interest in keeping the Islamist movement they separately helped foster in check before Islamic State absorbs and consolidates it.

Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq
Saudi Arabia supported Sunnis in Iraq while Iran supported Shiites. They now have an interest in aiding the Shiite-led Iraq government to counter a common threat.

U.S., China and Russia
Russia and China have plenty of disputes with the U.S., but they agree that, as big powers, they are threatened in similar fashion by the expansionist Islamic extremism of Islamic State.

U.S., Egypt, Qatar and Turkey
Egypt’s military ruler sees Qatar, Turkey and the U.S. as hostile to his suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood. They all now fear Islamic State will consolidate the Islamic threat.

U.S. and al Qaeda
The greatest odd bedfellow of all: Islamic State threatens al Qaeda as well as the West, meaning that, in fact, al Qaeda and the U.S. now have a shared enemy.

Here’s What 44 Countries List As The Greatest Dangers In The World

Iraqi Shi'ite

Amid rising conflicts engulfing the Middle East, most of the 44 nations surveyed in a new Pew Research Center study listed the top threat in the world as “religious and ethnic hatred.”

Nations were given the option of selecting between five dangers: nuclear weapons, pollution, AIDS and other diseases, inequality, and religious and ethnic hatred.

map danger larger

At 58%, Lebanon had the highest level of concern of any country and identified religious and ethnic hatred as the single greatest danger to the world, correlating to its diverse religious makeup of Shia Muslims, Sunni Muslims, Lebanese Christians, Greek Orthodox, and Jews.

Meanwhile, severe battles between Hezbollah and Jabhat al-Nusra have brought war to Lebanon. Egypt, Israel, Palestine, and Tunisia also shared Lebanon’s concern.

Meanwhile in the West, “the gap between the rich and the poor is increasingly considered the world’s top problem by people living in advanced economies,” the Pew Research Center says

Americans, and generally most European nations listed “inequality” as the world’s greatest danger. Spain cited this concern at a rate of 54%, the highest level of concern in this category.

global dangers survey pew research

Ukraine and Russia both named “nuclear weapons” as their highest threat, along with Japan, Pakistan, and Turkey. It is estimated that Russia —which leads the world in number of nuclear weapons — along with the US, UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea, possess approximately 17,000 nuclear weapons altogether.

Most African countries claimed “AIDS and other infectious diseases” as their most pressing issue in the world today.

Former Shin Bet Head Returning to Politics on Likud List

Avi Dichter

Avi Dichter returns to Likud after brief hiatus, says he supports peace deal – but also that Israel should defang Gaza.

 

Former Minister and Israel Security Agency (ISA or Shin Bet) leader Avi Dichter will be returning to politics, Walla! News reports Monday – this time, running in the Likud primaries, to be held on Wednesday.

Dichter returns to politics after leaving Kadima in 2012 to join Likud, and after briefly serving until March 2013 as Home Front Command Minister at Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s request during the 19th Knesset.

Despite Netanyahu’s support, Dichter did not manage to get enough votes from party members to formally join the Likud party during the last elections, falling short by 380 votes for the threshold.

Now, he says, he is taking stock of past experiences in his cautious return to the political scene. He explained that while last time, he launched a six-week campaign to woo members’ support for his Likud candidacy, he has been systematically building support throughout several “headquarters” throughout the country ahead of the 2015 elections.

Dichter explained that he identifies with the Right, but not the “extreme Right,” as he puts it, and believes that Likud must remain “Center-Right” in order to remain the ruling party and to build a coalition for the 20th Knesset.

When asked what “Center-Right” entails, he dodged the question slightly, but did note that, in his view, it includes acceptance of the idea of “Two States for Two Peoples.”

“Any intelligent person realizes that a one-state solution with the six million Jews and seven million non-Jews – mostly Muslims – is irresponsible,” Dichter stated to Walla!. “It is to set for ourselves a reality which is clearly unreasonable.” Dichter added that Netanyahu takes this view as well.

Following the theme of a grand plan for the Middle East, the former Shin Bet leader added that Gaza must be demilitarized – and that if the international community does not step in to do so, Israel must do so itself.

“Gaza is a terrorist entity controlled by Hamas, a terrorist organization, no matter what the European Union says,” he explained. “They have no idea what Hamas is.”

“We will have to disarm Gaza,” he continued. “Destruction of the terrorist infrastructure is something that will have to happen. Either the Egyptians and the Palestinian Authority will do this, or the time will come for Israel’s Operation Defensive Shield in Gaza. This is something you need to plan – it’s not something you do in response to rocket fire. We cannot leave it like it is.”

Dichter added that in his view, the Nation-State or Jewish State Law – the law blamed with bringing down the 19th Knesset – will eventually pass. The former Minister was the first to introduce his own version of the law, with Netanyahu’s blessing, as a Kadima MK during the 18th Knesset.