Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe “Bogey” Ya’alon took aim at the peace process being pushed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry–albeit in far more diplomatic terms–this week at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. Earlier in January, it was revealed that Ya’alon had called Kerry obsessive and “messianic” in his search for Israeli-Palestinian peace, and mocked U.S. security proposals for the Jordan River Valley region.
In an address Jan. 28, covered by Defense News, Ya’alon reiterated his reasons for skepticism. Foremost among these was that the Palestinians simply did not want to end the conflict: “As long as the Israeli flag does not appear on their map, and Palestine extends from Rosh Hanikra [bordering Lebanon in the north] to Eilat [at the Red Sea]…. As long as they are unwilling to declare an end of conflict and end of claims until the last Palestinian refugee is satisfied, what is there to discuss? This is the essence of the conflict,” he said.
Ya’alon cited two other problems. One was the U.S. insistence on the use of electronic monitoring, instead of Israeli boots on the ground, to monitor the border with Jordan. The other was the general decline of U.S. power in the region, which had emboldened Iran. Under the circumstances, he said, he did not expect to see peace.
The speech came as Israel’s governing coalition squabbled over specific peace proposals regarding the future citizenship of Israeli settlers in territory claimed by the Palestinians in the West Bank, while the Palestinian leadership–in a rebuke both to Israel and the U.S.–sent a delegation to Tehran and invited Iran to intervene more assertively in the conflict. Palestinians are known to be skeptical of U.S. peace proposals under discussion.