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Former Israeli general: failed peace talks won’t lead to doom

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New York Times journalist Ethan Bronner and former Israeli general Amos Yadlin at the 92nd Street Y. (Screenshot via

A former Israeli general predicted that peace talks with the Palestinian Authority would fail. Amos Yadlin, the head of Israel’s leading strategic think tank, lauded Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to broker a peace deal, but said that “the chance of Kerry succeeding is like my chance to win the lottery if I didn’t buy a ticket.”

He made the prediction in a conversation last night with New York Times journalist Ethan Bronner at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan. They were speaking at a panel convened by the Israel Policy Forum, a liberal Zionist group. Watch the event here:

Yadlin’s appearance came on the same day that the peace process seemed on the verge of collapse, as Israel announced new settlements and refused to release Palestinian citizens who are in prison for killing Israelis in terror attacks.  In response, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced he was applying to join 15 international treaties. 

The day’s events did not shake Yadin, though. The director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies dismissed predictions of doom for Israel, like Bronner’s assertion that there is “growing international pressure on Israel” because of the occupation. Yadlin said there is pressure, but that Israel can cope.

“So some Europeans will be upset,” he derisively said.

And he criticized people like Kerry who say the status quo is unsustainable. Yadlin said that type of talk gives the Palestinians hope that they can defeat Israel if they wait it out.

Yadlin added that the status quo is undesirable, but it’s better than giving the Palestinians a state on their own terms. Some in the audience questioned Yadlin’s apparent comfort with the current situation. One questioner said if the Palestinians decided to “sit back and make lots of babies,” the world would eventually see Israel as a South Africa on the Mediterranean due to there being more Palestinians than Jews.

But Yadlin said “the good news is the birth rate of Israelis is going up,” and European anti-Semitism would boost the Jewish population in Israel. In response, Bronner joked that “there’s hope.”

The former general added that any demography calculations should subtract Gaza, since Israel withdrew in 2005 and is not responsible for the people there, despite the international consensus that Israel retains “effective control” over Gaza and is therefore responsible.

Yadlin also reprised his plan for an Israeli withdrawal from 85 percent of the West Bank. He first voiced that proposal in January.  He said Israel should withdraw to the separation barrier that cuts into the West Bank, retain large settlement blocs and continue to occupy the Jordan Valley.  Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren has also advocated similar plans if peace talks fail–indicating a growing sentiment in the Israeli establishment.

The 92nd Street Y conversation, which also touched on Iran, Syria and Egypt, took place on a day when Yadlin was in the news.  Mother Jones revealed that over the weekend, former Vice President Dick Cheney gave a private speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition in which Cheney recounted a conversation with Yadlin.  The former Israeli general is legendary for being the pilot who bombed Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981 and was a top intelligence official when Israel did the same to a Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007. Cheney said that Yadlin “looked across the table over dinner, and he said, ‘Two down, one to go.’ I knew exactly what he meant.” The hawkish crowd, which included billionaire Sheldon Adelson, laughed and applauded.

I asked Yadlin for comment on Cheney’s claims, but he only said he would “never” leak a “conversation with a vice president”–though the former vice president had apparently leaked a private conversation with Yadlin.  But he did have other things to say on Iran and the negotiations over its nuclear energy program.

Yadlin has been among the voices urging Israel to bomb Iran if the Islamic Republic was on the verge of developing a nuclear weapon.  But Yadlin has expressed cautious support for Western diplomacy with Iran, and last night was no different.

Yadlin also said there’s no reason for Israel to freak out over the Arab Spring.  Arab countries, he said, are now focused on getting their own house in order, and in Syria people are killing each other. Whereas Bronner expressed trepidation about Egypt’s brutal military regime, Yadlin expressed support for it, and said the military was better than the Muslim Brotherhood. He said he was pleased that Egypt had declared Hamas a terror organization, and that the events of last July were not a “military coup.”  Instead, the military booting out Mohamed Morsi constituted a “popular coup.”

Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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43 Responses

  1. seafoid on April 2, 2014, 3:01 pm

    “But Yadlin said “the good news is the birth rate of Israelis is going up,”

    None of these IDF beefheads understand economics.
    The Haredi birthrate is very bad for Israel’s economic prospects.

    • The JillyBeans on April 2, 2014, 4:06 pm

      The religious people are never good at math. That’s where Darwinism comes into play. Eventually they will do themselves in due to lack of resources.

    • Naftush on April 3, 2014, 1:14 am

      All Israeli population groups have healthy birth rates.

    • Krauss on April 3, 2014, 2:59 am

      I wonder how a self-fasioned “liberal” like Brinner would react if a US general would say it is “good news” that blacks have fewer babies and whites have more.

      Would he say “good news” with a smile?

    • Kay24 on April 3, 2014, 3:25 am

      True, and there is limit to how many illegal settlement homes, they can cram with the population explosion! They are desperately trying to bribe Jews around the world to come and settle down in zioland.

    • ziusudra on April 3, 2014, 7:28 am

      Greetings seafoid,
      …..the haredi birthrate……
      Are these the 900K orthodox that neither work or serve?
      God bless them going for the true ideals of Judaic existence.
      PS Make babies not war. Change the demographics of Zionistan.

  2. Woody Tanaka on April 2, 2014, 3:29 pm

    The lack of any humanity evident in the discussion between this criminal and Bronner is really disconcerting. Is there not a decent person among the ruling class in the Zionist state or their pets in the US? This reads like two sociopaths pretending to be statesmen.

    • Citizen on April 2, 2014, 9:59 pm

      Yeah, it reminds me two people playing checkers or chess with the pieces being human beings; of course, that’s what generals, and big corporate CEOs do, not to mention Wall St folks with automated logarithms.

  3. Blownaway on April 2, 2014, 3:30 pm

    When you have Uncle Sam in your pocket its easy to be arrogant “6:41 P.M. U.S. Ambassador the UN Samantha Power tells a House Panel that that the U.S. “will oppose any attempt to upgrade the status of the Palestinians everywhere in the UN.”

    Power noted that a newly formed American-Israeli team meets monthly to discuss and coordinate responses to possible unilateral actions by the Palestinians at the UN. “If the Palestinians go to the ICC it will be a profound threat to Israel and devastating to the peace process,” Power says. (Barak Ravid)

    • Hostage on April 2, 2014, 10:12 pm

      “If the Palestinians go to the ICC it will be a profound threat to Israel and devastating to the peace process,” Power says. (Barak Ravid)

      Mind you, they say the same thing about Palestine joining the UN organization, the very thing that was formed to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war while maintaining international peace and security in conformity with the principles of justice and international law.

      • CloakAndDagger on April 2, 2014, 11:26 pm

        If the Palestinians go to the ICC it will be a profound threat to Israel

        This is like saying “[the victim] going to the court to seek justice would be a threat to [the criminal]”?

        So, we should protect a criminal by preventing their victim from reaching out to the courts for justice? What does that make us?

      • Hostage on April 3, 2014, 11:45 pm

        This is like saying “[the victim] going to the court to seek justice would be a threat to [the criminal]“?

        Since the ICC is a regularly constituted court that affords defendants the presumption of innocence and the benefit of any doubt, together with all of the normal legal protections and procedures recognized by civilized nations, that is exactly what these co-conspirators are saying.

        Israel’s lawyers are constantly bombarding us with propaganda disguised as legal arguments, but they admit that defending its actions in Court is a mortal threat.

    • Kay24 on April 2, 2014, 10:23 pm

      It seems the US cannot learn from past mistakes. Last time they arm twisted nations, and tried to get them to vote against the Palestinians at the UN…but there was overwhelming support for them, and they won. The US and Israel looked like sore losers. It is a shame that the US is controlled so much by a parasitic alien nation, and that our leaders have their hands tied, when it comes to doing the right thing.

  4. seafoid on April 2, 2014, 3:38 pm

    A lot of Wall St gung ho ultra capitalists never saw Lehman coming either. One lesson from the last decade is that an elite assurance is pretty worthless.

  5. MHughes976 on April 2, 2014, 5:20 pm

    It may be that the General is substantially correct. If Kerry is really so weak as to fall back on the old ‘sort it out yourselves’ nonsense and public opinion is really ready to accept the idea that ‘it’s all Abbas’ fault because he went to the UN’ then the way is open for Israel to do all sorts of enjoyable things. These two conditions may not be met, of course. When the ‘Rejection of Generous Offer’ story was put about there was almost no alternative voice with any audience and that has changed now. And is the Kerry/Obama team really quite as useless as it’s now letting itself appear? There is reference on another thread to Jonathan Pollard as a ‘pathetic guy’ but there are others who seem to outdo him in that respect.

  6. James Canning on April 2, 2014, 7:56 pm

    What does Yadlin regard as “defeat” for Israel, if the Palestinians “wait it out”? Israel ending the occupation?

  7. Kay24 on April 2, 2014, 10:25 pm

    I don’t know about doom, but there is going to be a lot of gloom, when BDS gets louder, and economically, Israel will feel the “pinch”. There are going to be more
    boycotts, when the world realizes Israel is behaving like a rogue nation, and cannot keep it’s word.
    This entire peace effort by Kerry and the US was simply a waste of time and our money, however Israel can never whine and say they were not given a chance.

  8. wondering jew on April 2, 2014, 10:52 pm

    Given that the two “action” alternatives: two states and one state with rights for all (excluding Gaza) are not palatable to the Israelis, that leaves the status quo, which can’t go on forever, but it could easily go on for 20 years and maybe as much as 30, but probably not as much as 60 years. What is the dynamic that would force an Israeli choice by 2034 instead of by 2074? Is the prospect of painful boycott by importers in Europe really strong enough to force a decision? I don’t know the stats on European importation of Israeli exports and how a boycott movement might make enough of a dent to cause pain to the Israeli economy. The only other alternative is a change by the United States, specifically the United States president. That change will take somewhere between 20 and 60 years by my approximation. That’s how it looks to me.

    • CloakAndDagger on April 2, 2014, 11:32 pm

      According to the CIA, Israel will be gone in 15 years (the report said 20 years back in 2009).

    • Kay24 on April 2, 2014, 11:35 pm

      By 2020, the UN predicts the Palestinian territories will be unlivable. That will be too late for the Palestinians. The master plan by evil zios would have been successfully completed.
      All it takes is for American leaders, especially the shameless Congress to refuse financing the brutal military occupation, colonization, and apartheid policies.
      Israel will change it’s tactics before you can say AIPAC.

    • wondering jew on April 2, 2014, 11:48 pm

      To clarify: My own personal choice is the 2 state solution and tout de suite. But it does not seem likely and my own personal choices are not often reflected by the Israeli government.

      • Ecru on April 3, 2014, 12:55 am

        @ yonah fredman

        What exactly do you mean by two states? Do you mean two states both with control over their own borders, both with control over their own airspace, both with their own armed defence forces etc?

      • wondering jew on April 3, 2014, 4:48 pm

        Ecru- Whatever the so called Geneva accord signed by Yossi Beilin and Yasser Abed Rabbo in 2003 included, that is what I favor.

    • seafoid on April 3, 2014, 1:43 am

      “but it could easily go on for 20 years and maybe as much as 30, but probably not as much as 60 years. What is the dynamic that would force an Israeli choice by 2034 instead of by 2074?”

      A bond run

      Investors start dumping Israeli bonds due to political uncertainty linked to outside pressure or simply awareness that the numbers don’t add up any longer. Inflation takes off, the Bank of Israel raises interest rates, the housing market crashes.

      This would be the most peaceful. It might just be one analyst report that sets the crash off.

      “Market opinion tends to crowd around a consensus without much original analysis – nobody seems to be listening or thinking,” he says.
      Jim Reid, Deutsche Bank strategist, admitted in a note: “All of us are guilty of herd mentality ”

      There are really only 3 ways to stop a mad system- outside pressure, an internal coup from within the power structure or a popular revolution with a credible leadership . In order to get something to change Yossi Israeli has to see what is going on.

      As far as I know the Wall St algorithms are not Zionist.

      Israel is very determined and the people have been indoctrinated well but having torn Jewish morality to shreds the plan now seems to be to destroy the authority of the UN. It’s just not worth it.

    • RoHa on April 3, 2014, 4:27 am

      Why exclude Gaza? It seems to be part of Palestine, so why not make it part of a unified Palestine?

      • wondering jew on April 3, 2014, 4:42 pm

        RoHa- I am aware that Palestine advocates see no difference between Gaza and the West Bank. But I exclude Gaza, based on the assumption that the action solution will be accomplished not through coercion but rather through inevitability. It seems clear to me that Gaza being included in the one state solution is not inevitable and would only be achieved through coercion.

      • Hostage on April 3, 2014, 7:08 pm

        RoHa- I am aware that Palestine advocates see no difference between Gaza and the West Bank. But I exclude Gaza . . .

        UN Security Council resolution 1860 stipulated that Gaza will be part of the State of Palestine, i.e. that is NOT subject to any negotiation with Israel:

        Stressing that the Gaza Strip constitutes an integral part of the territory occupied in 1967 and will be a part of the Palestinian state,

        Why don’t Israelis just revoke their membership in the United Nations, until such time as they are willing to accept the terms of Articles 24 and 25 of the Charter and carry out the decision of the Security Council as required?

      • annie on April 3, 2014, 7:19 pm

        shorter yonah, i’ll support what’s inevitable in the future. and not what isn’t!


      • wondering jew on April 3, 2014, 11:31 pm

        Annie- Read the discussion re: Gaza in the comments section of the MJ Rosenberg post.

    • libra on April 3, 2014, 4:46 pm

      yonah fredman: …that leaves the status quo…

      There is no status quo let alone reverse gear in an inherently radical system such as Zionism. It’s compelled to move forward, to become ever more extreme, or risk imploding. That’s been the arc of Israel’s existence since its inception and it makes your 60 year estimate seem wildly optimistic. The Zionist train will keep accelerating till it hits the buffers. Have a nice ride.

  9. seafoid on April 3, 2014, 1:47 am

    “Amos Yadlin, the head of Israel’s leading strategic think tank”

    Presumably that’s a joke. What sort of strategic thinking has led Israel to where it is now ?

  10. Walid on April 3, 2014, 5:29 am

    About failed or about to fail talks, it was reported on the news that yesterday a delegation of Israelis and Americans visited the Palestinians to discuss what Abbas had signed that lasted 7 hours. They started off on an amicable tone and as the day progressed, voices began to be raised on both sides. The Palestinians defensively answered back that these were only humanitarian things that they signed for women’s rights and such things. The Americans (Indyk) sided with the Israelis at berating the Palestinians for what they had done and towards the end of the meeting, Livni started with the threats of what Israel was going to to do to punish the Palestinians for the apps saying the methods of punishment are going to be new ones on the Palestinians and the Palestinians appeared unruffled by the open threats.

    Real bullies. I wonder what’s being promised as a “new”
    punishment for the Palestinians.

    • seafoid on April 3, 2014, 6:12 am

      “Livni started with the threats of what Israel was going to to do to punish the Palestinians for the apps saying the methods of punishment are going to be new ones on the Palestinians and the Palestinians appeared unruffled by the open threats”

      “Jimmy Savile’s former personal assistant Janet Cope has said the disgraced TV star ”thought he was untouchable”. ..Ms Cope, 70, who was Savile’s PA for 32 years until she was suddenly sacked by him in 2001, described him as ”eccentric, manipulative, controlling
      She told the Daily Mirror: ”I was frightened to death of him and I wasn’t the only one. He loved the power he had over people. ”

      “Why am I writing about this now? Because I was enraged when I saw [Hall] had received his OBE this year. Because it seems that our culture is thinking differently about sexual predators… The furore over Jimmy Savile has spurred me on.” No one did anything then to stop that serial abuser. She, I imagine, hoped Hall would answer for his crimes before he escaped to the other side.
      Her sense of urgency and injustice got to me and I knew I couldn’t just file the letter away. So, I went to my police station in Ealing, sat for almost two hours waiting to hand it in and feeling a bit foolish. The small reception area was crowded that day with victims of robberies and assaults, some addicts and a couple of drunk bores. I almost left a couple of times because it was taking so long and because I wasn’t sure what they would do with an anonymous letter.
      Was I wasting police time? They had nothing to go on, just three typed, eloquent pages and a scribbled note at the bottom, offering to meet up as long as I could guarantee anonymity. But there was no indication of how I could contact her for such a meeting. When, finally, it was my turn, the officer recording the “incident” looked uninterested. Still, I had done my citizen duty and that, I thought, was that.
      It wasn’t. A few weeks later I had a call from Detective Constable Rukin of Lancashire Police. Officers wanted to come over to interview me. Hall had not been on their “radar” but after the letter forwarded by Ealing Police, a line of inquiry had been opened. So they came, two nice gents who asked many questions and, I expect, checked out whether I had anything against Hall or was a paranoid fantasist. Stupidly, I had thrown away the envelope that might have given a clue about where the woman lived. From then to now, the police have regularly phoned and updated me on the lines of inquiry. They asked me to put up a call for the woman on my website, which I did. On Thursday DC Rukin confirmed that had they not been sent this letter, Hall would never have been investigated.
      Lancashire Police have displayed exemplary professionalism and commitment. They followed a lead that was, at best, slight. More impressively still, the investigating team ignored social status and fame. Fame and money can influence law enforcers. Not this time. Police investigators and interviewers also got Hall to accept his crimes and take responsibility, so women abused by him will not have to relive their horrors in court. I believe they have now interviewed the woman who wrote to me. I hope she was one of the girls Hall now accepts he did abuse.
      She will, I hope, now at last find some peace. She should be so very proud that decades after being entrapped and abused by a manipulative man, she was able to express her anger, hurt, sense of guilt and betrayal so honestly to a stranger.”

  11. giladg on April 3, 2014, 5:33 am

    Yadlin made one major mistake in my opinion. He did not turn to the Palestinians, in his list of what they need to do for true peace, and that is the understanding and acceptance that some things will need to be shared. Some things can never be divided and result in peace afterwards. Without the element of sharing, the process becomes a zero sum game. Yadlin still does not understand this and so don’t many secular Israeli’s. And so don’t most Leftist Palestinian supporters, who detest religion and yet support Palestinian claims based on religion, history and heritage, and at the same time reject Zionists claims based on the same premise. And the imbalance goes against raw, core understandings of what justice should be about. Justice is not reserved for the Arabs.

  12. Accentitude on April 3, 2014, 7:07 am

    “Yadlin also reprised his plan for an Israeli withdrawal from 85 percent of the West Bank…..He said Israel should withdraw to the separation barrier that cuts into the West Bank, retain large settlement blocs and continue to occupy the Jordan Valley.”
    Well, Palestinians currently control 23% of the West Bank. That means that 77% has already been annexed by Israel and I doubt that Israel would return any of that land back to the Palestinians. So maybe Yadlin really means that Israel would withdraw from 85% of the remaining 23% but that means that the Palestinians living in areas completely surrounded by the Wall and are totally segregated from the rest of the West Bank would be on the inside of Israel’s new borders. In which case, they can either be given Israeli citizenship…or rather “residency”….or they could live unrecognized and stateless in between both areas. Either way, its a whole new can of worms that Israel will open for itself.

  13. Walid on April 3, 2014, 7:34 am

    seafoid, I can see the similarities with the abuse the Palestinians keep getting. I still can’t think what Livni has in store for the Palestinians.

    • seafoid on April 3, 2014, 8:18 am

      They are hardly going to have Plan Dalet redux, Walid.
      It looks like the Wizard of Oz .

      Or the Palestinian in this photo taking one arm down and slapping the bot in the face

      • Walid on April 3, 2014, 8:41 am

        Saeb Erekat tabled his 60-page report on the security situation for the Palestinians and his recommendations of what they should do next. It detailed how Israel has taken over 500 civilian prisoners, how many homes they have destroyed, how many olive trees they have cut down, how many settlements homes were built or announced, all while the current peace talks were underway, which prove the Israelis’ true motives of not wanting any real solution. Erekat in his report concludes that Israel wants to continue acting as a mandate power but without paying anything for it. He recommends a hasty reconciliation with Hamas to start a civil disobedience campaign such as those that happened in India and South Africa. and to proceed via the UN to have Israelis evicted as war criminals.

        In fact, during the heated arguments at the meeting with Livni and Indyk, he actually threatened to have them kicked out as war criminals.

        I didn’t think Erekat had it in him. Must be a Samson thing with a full head of hair grown back now. Nice to see him like that and hope he sticks to it.

      • seafoid on April 3, 2014, 10:16 am

        They must have taken heart from all the PR defeats of the bots in Galut.
        It has been very interesting to see the hasbara fail so spectacularly.

      • seafoid on April 3, 2014, 3:31 pm

        It’s getting very interesting, Walid.

        “If you escalate the situation against us, we will pursue you as war criminals in all the international forums,” Erekat told Livni in response to her threat of Israeli sanctions against the Palestinians.

        Palestinian demands

        The Palestinians issued six main demands in connection to the core issues at the meeting:

        1. A letter of commitment from Benjamin Netanyahu, in which the Israeli prime minister recognizes the 1967 borders and recognizes East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state.

        2. The release of 1,200 Palestinian prisoners, including Marwan Barghouti, Ahmed Sa’adat and Fuad Shubaki.

        3. Implementation of the border crossing agreements and an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip.

        4. The return of the Palestinians who were expelled from the West Bank in 2002 after a siege in Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity.

        5. A freeze on construction in Jewish settlements, including Jerusalem, the reopening of Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem and family reunification for 15,000 Palestinians.

        6. Prohibition of the entry, for the purpose of carrying out arrests and assassinations, of Israeli security forces into areas of the West Bank that are under Palestinian control, and the transfer of Area C to Palestinian control.

        A senior Palestinian figure told Haaretz that part of these demands are based on past agreements that were included in the road map and agreed with former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and therefore cannot be considered new conditions that could constitute a pretext for ending the negotiations. If Israel seeks peace, it can undoubtedly accept these terms, he said.

        “If we had settled the issue of borders,” Shtayyeh said, “we could have avoided several major obstacles “

  14. a blah chick on April 3, 2014, 8:58 am

    I could feel the smugness even through the computer screen.

    “…Yadlin said “the good news is the birth rate of Israelis is going up,” and European anti-Semitism would boost the Jewish population in Israel. In response, Bronner joked that “there’s hope.”

    I hope I live long enough to see these two get their comeuppance.

  15. seafoid on April 3, 2014, 11:14 am

    The former Israeli general is an insider and an ideologue and the mixture in the face of new risk is very dangerous.

    Here are some examples from the US

    Complex financial instruments have been especial contributors, particularly over the past couple of stressful years, to the development of a far more flexible, efficient, and resilient financial system than existed just a quarter-century ago.’(Alan Greenspan 2002)
    ‘In addressing the challenges and risks that financial innovation may create, we should also always keep in view the enormous economic benefits that flow from a healthy and innovative financial sector. The increasing sophistication and depth of financial markets promote economic growth by allocating capital where it is most productive. And the dispersion of risk more broadly across the financial system has, thus far, increased the resilience of the system and the economy to shocks’(Ben Bernanke May 2007)
    ‘the current economic situation is better than what we have experienced in years. Our central forecast remains quite benign: In line with recent trends, sustained growth in OECD economies would be underpinned by strong job creation and falling unemployment.’(OECD Economic Outlook 2007)

  16. markpg on April 4, 2014, 12:18 am

    Yadlin sounded very glib talking about “redeployment” from Gaza. Yes, indeed, it is a big Israeli success in containing 1.7 million Palestinians, two thirds of whom are refuges from 1948 Palestine, inside a mere 360 square kilometers. He hopes Israel has gotten rid of them for good.

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