Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon declared on Tuesday that if he was to choose between Iran and ISIS - "I prefer ISIS."
Speaking at the Institute for National Security Studies' (INSS) conference in Tel Aviv, Ya'alon sought to clarify that "Iran is our main enemy, after I heard voices saying different things."
The defense minister was likely referring to comments made by IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot at the conference on Monday, who declared that "there are opportunities in the nuclear agreement with Iran. Hezbollah - that is the most serious threat."
Defense Minister Ya'alon at the INSS conference (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
Tehran, he said, "is a rogue regime with designs on a regional hegemony. Hezbollah is Iran's proxy, with the ability to declare war. Iran currently has terror infrastructure in place in five continents: Asia, Africa, Europe and both in South and North America."
The nuclear agreement signed between the Islamic Republic and world powers, the defense minister said, "pushed back the clock from three months to one year. If Iran feels economically secure, it can breakout and produce a bomb even faster."
Ya'alon doesn't put much stock in the Russians' ability to retake Syria from jihadists- including ISIS - who took over large swaths of land. "The Russians thought they'd get to the Euphrates River in three months," he said, noting the Russian army is not reaching its goals and failing to achieve much in the Golan Heights.
"There are achievements in the fighting against ISIS - led by the US," Ya'alon said. "ISIS is suffering serious defeats in Iraq and Syria."
"We believe ISIS will be eventually defeated territorially after the blows it has been suffering, and in light of the attacks on its oil reserves," he added.
The strategy in Syria, he said, should be "to strengthen local forces with 'boots on the ground,' like the Kurds are doing."
Earlier, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, speaking at the same conference, slammed the policies of the government
he is a member of.
"All the expensive F-35s will not help in the face of 50 commandos digging the way to Netiv HaAsara," said Bennett. He argued that Israel is reacting to existing realities rather than shaping its own destiny. He further said that Israel must modernize its thinking about defense and not only weapons.
"I keep hearing, 'why aren't you doing a blockade?' We don't want to drive them to terror," Ya'alon said in response. "I also heard calls for targeted killings. Targeted killings are done when we are not controlling the area."
Opposition leader Herzog also spoke at the conference on Tuesday, declaring Israel was "in the midst of a third intifada."
He attacked some views prevalent among his own left wing. "If we keep denying the truth, it could be the gravest intifada of all. But some here keep on dreaming. The romantic dreams of some on the left that tomorrow morning we offer a hand in peace, and the Palestinians immediately shake it, are just wild dreams. There's too much hatred and incitement."
The right-wing, too, is dreaming, Herzog said. "The messianic dreams of some on the right that tomorrow one state will rise here from the Jordan River to the sea and will be the national home of both nations, with six million Palestinians and six million Jews, is not a dream - it's a nightmare," he said. "Prime Minister Netanyahu's nightmare that he could 'manage the conflict' also blew up in our faces and stabbed us all."