Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has reportedly
decided to appoint an ultra-hawk, one of Israel's leading national-religious
icons, as his new national security adviser.
If media reports are correct, Netanyahu's new pick for the important position is Major-General (res.) Yaakov Amidror, who in the past advocated for reoccupying the Gaza Strip and staying there "for many years." Earlier this month, Amidror wrote that "negotiations with the Palestinians and even an agreement with the Palestinians (...) will not benefit Israel in any way as it faces the threats that might emerge in the future."
Amidror retired from the IDF in 2002, after serving as the
head of the analysis wing of Israel's military intelligence and as the
commander of the IDF's academies. After retiring from the IDF, he wrote
extensively for Israeli think tanks and daily newspapers. His paper trail
leaves no doubt about his extreme views, which included vicious attacks on the
New Israel Fund, sharp criticism of the Obama administration's "naive" Middle
East policy, and dismissive views regarding the viability and advisability of
creating a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.
Amidror is associated with the ultra-right national-religions
party "The Jewish Home." In 2008, he headed a commission tasked with composing
the party's list for the general elections. The party, which is dominated by
former National Religious Party (NRP) politicians, supports a "greater Israel"
ideology and is considered the most authentic political representative of the
ideological messianic settlers in the West Bank.
In recent months, Amidror has written several articles and
essays that lay out his strategic worldview. His approach to Israel's national
security attributes little value to political accords between Israel and its neighbors.
In Amidror's view, Israel's chief national security asset in its relations with
its neighbors is deterrence. In an article submitted to a January 24th
2010 conference on Israel's threats at Tel Aviv University's Institute for
National Security Studies, Amidror wrote that the "basic principle" for
assessing Israel's threat is the recognition that the Arab world "does not
accept the very presence of a sovereign and independent Jewish state in the heart
of the Middle East and will do its best to annihilate it." Any other basic
assumption, Amidror wrote, is "self deception." Amidror repeated several times
in his article that Israel's goal should not be to change the minds and hearts
of its Arab neighbors - such attempts would be in vain - but to deter them by
force. "The processes taking place in the Middle East are leading it toward
becoming more fundamentalist, less tolerant and less democratic."
Most of Amidror's recent articles were published in a column
in the pro-Netanyahu Hebrew daily Yisrael Hayom (Israel Today). The most recent
one, dated February 2 2011, was headlined "The Chief Lesson - Security
is Preferable to Peace." In this article, Amidror argues that because Israel
lives "on the edge of a volcano," it must always be ready for the worse. "The
main lesson is that we must emphasize Israel's security needs and its ability
to defend itself over any other requirement, including the lofty dream to reach
political agreements [with its neighbors]. If we will have to choose between an
agreement and Israel's security requirements - security is preferable." He
continued, "in the past days, speakers from inside and outside have been
talking about the need, particularly now, to advance negotiations with the
Palestinians. At this stage, it should be emphasized that such negotiations -
and even an agreement with the Palestinians - would not solve the problem
stemming from the new situation in Egypt, and they would not benefit Israel in
any way, facing the threats that might emerge in the future. We must not delude
ourselves. Self deception leads to the most severe mistakes."
Amidror's views seem to reflect the most extreme wing in Netanyahu's coalition. His appointment, if press reports about it are correct, could serve as one more indication that Netanyahu prefers diplomatic stalemate over possible progress toward peace with the Palestinians.