According to the Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon
, which will be covering this item at length in this weekend's paper, Israeli former chief of staff Lt. General (reserves) Gabi Ashkenazi voiced opposition to directly attack Iran at this stage, at the "Council for peace and security" convention - an NGO of national security experts, founded by the late General (Reserve) Aharon Yariv. The convention incorporates speeches and sessions led by military and strategic experts and aims to provide new information for leaders of the Israeli military, security forces and government.
Yishai Friedman from "Makor Rishon paper" who heard Ashkenazi speaking three days ago on 21 August at the conference in the City of Hertzelia, heard the former Chief of Staff stating the following:" We should act under the threshold of war, along with political and economic sanctions, and keep the military option open."
The participants at a meeting held for the leaders of the security community under the auspices of the "Council for peace and security", received a comprehensive overview from the former chief of staff about the many security challenges the state was dealing with (Also present Walla news
, as well as Israeli site News1
). After a few brief words of introduction, according to Yishai Friedman, Ashkenazi began touching upon crucial issues on Israel's agenda, beginning with the Iranian threat, through dangers on the southern border and on the northern front as well, in light of the turmoil in the Middle East, mentioning even the "Equal draft for all citizens" matter (Internal Israeli debate regarding recruiting Ultra-Orthodox and Israeli Arab citizens to some sort of service as well. JG). He also talked about the professional army model (Like in the US), the Homeland front preparedness, and more.
The former Chief of Staff is of the opinion that at least for the time being, The IAF will not direct it's sorties towards Teheran, the city of Qom or any other area in the She'ite country. "We are not at that point now. People are under the impression that someone (in Iran) will pull down a suitcase, and suddenly they will have "The bomb" he stated, and then modified his statement: "We are not at that point, but most likely on our way to that point". He continued by saying that regarding the issue of the Iranian threat in the near future he does not suppose the IAF will act dealing practically and directly with the threat, although he did admit that he was no longer privy to the detailed clandestine actions plans. "I still maintain as I have in the past that the war should be a secret" he explained: "I mean all that is under the war threshold, the strike threshold…I read in the papers about worms and about scientists, and I don't know a thing about it. I am just saying that we must continue every secret effort. Although it only buys us some time, but it is important.".
Ashkenazi continued: "The second thing that must be done is the sanctions – political and mainly economical. These two have to be supported by a third strategy, of keeping the military option credible and realistic, and hope that the integration of approaches will prevent Iran from moving forward with the bomb".
He explained later on that the main problem with Iran is not the possibility of it being nuclear, but rather it's leaders and the regime. "A few hundred kilometers west of Iran is a state, with the capital called Islamabad, with nuclear warheads that reach even Tel Aviv, and nobody is leaving town. The problem is the regime, and the fact that we are in conflict with it. I hope that one morning we wake up, and discover that the "Arab spring" reached Teheran" Ashkenazi said.
When Gabi Ashkenazi was Chief of staff the northern border in Israel was relatively quiet, although the strategic situation currently has changed, mainly due to the unrest in Syria creeping into Lebanon, and Hezbollah not receiving the same Iranian umbrella as in the past . Ashkenazi in his words referred to this change: "…Our strategic situation will improve once Assad disappears…" said Ashkenazi who was also the commander of the Northern command in the IDF. "Assad's disappearance" he continued "even in the event of the emergence of a Sunni government will improve Israel's position. I have no doubt that in his absence Hezbollah will be more restrained. Even Iran will turn to a more restrained regime, when it loses it's only ally in the area that is a state."
He claimed that this prediction has its advantages: "This will strengthen other pragmatic forces. It is not all about risks, but also about opportunities. We must realize this is a fluid situation, and the only certain part is that we will continue to see instability, and uncertainty will increase…" concluded the veteran chief of staff.