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EXCLUSIVE – Ex-Defense Chief Moshe Ya’alon: Israel Will Not Allow ‘Iran-Dominant Syria’

TEL AVIV – Israel will do everything in its power to stop Iranian proxies from gaining strength on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told Breitbart Jerusalem amid news that an Iran-backed Shiite militia had been formed with the goal of “liberating the Golan Heights from Israel.”

Israel would never put up with “allowing Iran to come back to the Golan Heights with a Shia militia … or Hezbollah elements from Lebanon deployed on the Golan Heights in order to try and open terror fronts against the IDF like they tried to in the past.”

“It’s very clear. We don’t want to have an Iranian-dominant Syria,” Yaalon said.

Last week, the secretary-general of the Iraqi Harakat al Nujaba Shiite militia, trained by the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), announced the formation of the “Golan Liberation Brigade,” with the stated aim of assisting the Syrian regime in recapturing the Golan Heights from Israel.

During his term as Defense Minister, the IDF thwarted a dozen terror attacks from Iran-backed forces across the northern border, Ya’alon said.

“The only element that challenged us deliberately from the Syrian side of the Golan Heights during the civil war were Iranian proxies, operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Al Quds force,” Ya’alon said, before implying that Israel handled all those threats.

“Jihad Mughniyeh, Allah yerachmu [Arabic for ‘Allah have mercy on his soul’]; Samir Kuntar, Allah yerachmu; Palestinian Islamic Jihad cell, Allah yerachmu,” he joked, referring to Hezbollah commanders allegedly killed by Israeli strikes.

Ya’alon made his remarks at a question and answer session for the Tel Aviv International Salon as part of a publicity tour aimed at gathering steam for his new political party, which he announced earlier this month.

Ya’alon also sparred with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, inter alia, over the rights of IDF commanders to speak their minds about the fate of Elor Azaria, the soldier who shot and killed a subdued Palestinian terrorist. Yaalon quit his defense post in May.

The leadership, he said at Tuesday’s event, went to the “extreme,” including demonization of the press and widespread corruption. He also slammed the government for being too focused on populist soundbites.

“In the era of alternative facts and fake news, everything is possible, it’s about soundbites, it’s about being very vocal and extreme,” he said, but added, “leadership is not about being popular, leadership is about being right.”

Regarding the conflict with the Palestinians, Ya’alon is doubtful about the prospects for peace.

“The gap between us and them is enormous,” he said. “First and foremost, their reluctance to recognize the right to exist as a nation-state of the Jewish people in any part of [Israel].”

“When they claim ‘occupation,’ they claim occupation since ’48, not since ’67. Israel does not appear on their maps. I’m talking about Palestinians Authority maps.”

“They educate their kids to wear explosive belts, generating hatred against the Jews, against the Zionists. … The biggest settlement is here in Tel Aviv, in case you don’t know,” he added.

However, Ya’alon added that the time had come for Israel to make decisions in regard to final status borders and extending Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank.

“On the one hand, I believe there is no chance for final settlement solution; on the other, I don’t want to rule them,” he said. “We have to decide where to settle and what to annex and what not to annex.”

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