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September 25, 2016 2:03 pm

Israeli Minister: Iran Must Not Be Allowed to Remain Hegemonic Power in Post-Civil-War Syria

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Israeli Construction Minister Yoav Gallant. Photo: Ron Sachs.

Israeli Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant. Photo: Ron Sachs.

Iran must not be allowed to remain a hegemonic presence in a post-civil-war Syria, a former IDF general and current member of Israel’s diplomatic-security cabinet told The Algemeiner on Saturday.

“The greatest threat to Israel is posed not by ISIS or al-Qaeda, but rather by Iran and Hezbollah, both of which must be isolated from the Western world,” Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant, who served as the head of the IDF Southern Command between 2005 and 2010, said on the sidelines of the 2016 National Israeli-American Council Conference in Washington, DC. “We must make clear that Iran is part of the problem, not the solution, in our region.”

Regarding recent international efforts to institute a cease-fire in Syria, Galant said, “Though an end to fighting there is very important, I personally think the chances of it holding are not very high, because no one has full control.”

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Turning to the situation in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Galant said he was an advocate of building a port that would connect the coastal enclave with the world.

“I think it is a practical idea that will ultimately be put into practice,” he said. “There are water and electricity problems, in addition to a grave economic situation there, and a humanitarian disaster in Gaza would be harmful for Israel.”

Asked whether he foresaw another Israeli military operation in Gaza in the near future, Galant was non-committal, but indicated that it was a distinct possibility. “The Romans said, ‘If you want peace, prepare for war.’ If we want peace with Gaza, we must be ready for war, because it could happen at any moment.”

Galant, who helped oversee Operation Cast Lead in December 2008-January 2009, said Israel was capable of “taking over Gaza militarily and toppling Hamas” if it so chose. He also claimed that Israel would have a solution to the threat posed by underground tunnels within the next few years, at which point, he said, “Hamas won’t have any effective options” against the Jewish state.

Talking about his participation in the IAC conference, Galant — a member of Moshe Kahlon’s centrist Kulanu party — said, “There are only two places in the world Jews can call their home and feel equal, safe and comfortable, and live their lives as they please — Israel and North America. It’s important that Israelis living abroad preserve their identity, not assimilate, and maintain their connection with Israel.”

The IAC was founded in 2007, with the stated mission of bolstering engagement and unity among the Israeli-American community. More than 2,000 people are attending its three-day conference that began on Saturday night.

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