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September 8, 2014 12:51 pm

Israel’s Lapid: The ‘Real War Today is Between the Sane and the Insane’

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Finance Minister Yair Lapid, leader of the Yesh Atid party. Photo: Yesh Atid.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid, leader of the Yesh Atid party. Photo: Yesh Atid.

Declaring that “The real war today is between the sane and the insane,” Israel’s Finance Minister and a Security Cabinet member, Yair Lapid, charged Monday that “Radical Islam is out of control.”

In an address at the 14th Annual World Summit on Counter-Terrorism, held under the auspices of the Interdisciplinary Center – Herzliya, Lapid assessed that the current regional security situation “is as dangerous for [Palestinian authority President Mahmoud Abbas] and for the moderate Arab states as it is for us.”

Lapid said it was to Israel’s benefit to come to an equitable solution with the Palestinian populations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“Hamas is isolated, President Sisi of Egypt has interests which are similar to ours, the moderate Arab states are scared of the rise of extremist Islam and ISIS has awoken the United States and Europe,” Lapid said, emphasizing that “This is a moment of opportunity and we should take advantage of it to separate from the Palestinians and establish relations with the Arab world.”

In related remarks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during a meeting on Sunday with Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende, asserted that “I think there is a growing awareness in the international community of the threat posed by Islamist terror and radicalism. Groups like ISIS, Hamas, al Nusra, al Qaeda, al Shabaab, Hezbollah supported by Iran, they form a clear and present danger to our civilization, to our way of life, our values.”

“I think the most important thing is to nip it in the bud, and those who don’t do so will find Islamic terrorism that is here today, tomorrow at their doorstep,” Netanyahu said.

For his part, Brende replied, that “…I just came from the NATO summit in Wales to Israel and also there was a lot of discussion of to join forces now against extremism, especially now with the growing ISIS and challenge in Syria and Iraq,” according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

On Monday, Lapid said that the recent Operation Protective Edge to thwart rocket fire into Israel, “was longer than the Second Lebanon War, more violent than Operation Cast Lead and had a higher number of casualties than Operation Pillar of Defense.” He said he believes, nonetheless, that, “it wasn’t different to them in substance. Without a diplomatic process, without a real vision for the direction of the State of Israel, it is yet another round of fighting. There have been others before, there will be others after.”

He added, however, that such a chronic ongoing situation was untenable for the country.

“It isn’t acceptable for the residents of southern Israel. It doesn’t provide us with the security we deserve. The social and economic strength of the country was damaged. The approach that says there can be no rehabilitation of Gaza without demilitarization was put to one side with the claim that it’s impossible to achieve.”

But, “It is possible,” he said.

According to the minister, although “Terror creates death and destruction … it cannot defeat us.”

“Terror didn’t defeat us even after the deaths of 1,178 in the Second Intifada. We have the strongest military in the Middle East, we have accurate intelligence like never before and we must pursue the heads of terrorist organizations wherever in the world they are and bring them to justice.”

“We must also set out on a far more determined fight against the sources of funding for terror. If we can cut off their funding, they will not be able to re-arm and their ability to operate will be limited,” Lapid stressed.

Lapid said that Israel must do two things “to defeat terror:”

“The first is to arm, to prepare and to never diminish our state of readiness. To remember that there are actors with whom we can never negotiate except through the barrel of the gun or better still the optic sight of a guided missile.”

“The second thing is to set forth the alternative. To build a coalition of sanity. To create the regional table in which we are a part of the fight against terror and our intelligence is part of the regional effort against the Islamic State, Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda. A diplomatic solution will create an alternative to the anarchy which allows Hamas to flourish. As part of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, recognized by the international community including the Arab states, Hamas will become the rebellious actor in a legal government, and that government will have to deal with them.”

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