Former IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot
Former IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot
Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg
Former IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot

Israel's greatest threat is not Hamas or Iran, but political infighting

Opinion: In this exclusive piece, former IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot says its leaders must unite to overcome health and economic crises and ensure a Jewish and democratic existence for us and future generations

Gadi Eisenkot |
Published: 12.31.20, 12:59
I have served Israel for over 40 years. I have fought in its wars and actively participated in deliberations on crucial decisions in various crises, going through some of the toughest and most complicated events of my life.
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  • I have worked to strengthen the state and always believed in the path we chose: a Jewish-democratic and innovative country, founded on the military, economic and social might, ensuring its continued existence and prosperity.
    5 צפייה בגלריה
    Former IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot
    Former IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot
    Former IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot
    (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
    Now, the times are tough for Israel because it has to deal not only with enemies abroad but with a debilitating political crisis accompanied by extreme and violent public discourse and a lack of faith in its institutions and leaders. The crisis that deepens Israel's divides and social strain.
    Israel needs a leadership that would push for its national values, lead by example, work to strengthen the public's trust in its institutions, bolster the public sector and reassure a balance between the judiciary, executive and legislative branches, while being acceptant of constructive and bold criticism.
    The coronavirus pandemic this year has led to a loss of lives and severe economic damage inflicted on all parts of Israeli society.
    With the beginning of the national vaccination campaign less than two weeks ago, we are starting to see the first signs of hope. But we are still far off from the end and it will take years for Israel to recover from the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic.
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    מבצע חיסונים של מורים מראשון לציון בבית החולים אסף הרופא
    מבצע חיסונים של מורים מראשון לציון בבית החולים אסף הרופא
    Teachers receiving the coronavirus vaccine at a medical facility in central Israel
    (Photo: Yuval Hen)
    Self-employed, those on minimum-wage, small business owners, low-income families have all been hit hard by this crisis, which created hundreds of thousands of unemployed and gnawed at the social resilience of Israelis.
    Along with the coronavirus pandemic, security threats are still very much present: the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, a failing enemy state in Syria and Lebanon becoming a playground for Iran – which is working to assert regional hegemony and develop its nuclear capabilities.
    These threats are important, but are not existential for us. Israel stands strong thanks to its strategy that combines military and national supremacy. The real existential threat is at home, with the political stalemate gripping this nation for the past two years.
    It is the main threat at the moment, jeopardizing our capability to fulfill our potential as an advanced, prosperous society in line with the vision put forth in our Declaration of Independence.
    5 צפייה בגלריה
    ההפגנות נגד נתניהו בבלפור ירושלים
    ההפגנות נגד נתניהו בבלפור ירושלים
    Anti-Netanyahu protestors in Jerusalem
    (Photo: Shalev Shalom)
    A state founded on national-Jewish values, anchored by thousands of years of historical and religious traditions. Alongside these values, we must ensure full equality for all, regardless of religion, nationality, race or gender and strive for liberty, justice and peace.
    We must adjust our priorities and try to utilize the coronavirus pandemic to make thorough changes, which will lead to a better and cooperative future for us and those generations to come. This will be achieved only if we can work together properly and fast. We must stop the political bickering and stop dividing ourselves along political lines.
    We must bolster the public's trust in the state's institutions, while pushing for reforms that will ensure true separation of power. This will strengthen the justice system and the public's trust in it through understanding that it is an important factor in Israeli democracy.
    Along with strengthening our position at home we must continue to prepare against security threats. Our strategic stance has improved, thanks to the normalization agreements Israel signed in the passing months with a number of Arab states.
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    L-R: Bahrain FM Abdullatif al-Zayani, PM Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Donald Trump, and Emirati FM Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan at the signing of the Abraham Accords at the White House
    L-R: Bahrain FM Abdullatif al-Zayani, PM Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Donald Trump, and Emirati FM Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan at the signing of the Abraham Accords at the White House
    L-R: Bahrain FM Abdullatif al-Zayani, PM Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Donald Trump, and Emirati FM Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan at the signing of the Abraham Accords at the White House
    (Photo: AFP)
    These deals are based on our neighbors' understanding that Israel is an economic, security and technological powerhouse.
    I see great importance in promoting active security in order to wear down our enemies' capabilities and deter any actions against Israel.
    We must prevent any measure or decision that could bring Israel closer to becoming a binational state, which would be a disaster for the country's future.
    We must work toward full separation from the Palestinians, preferably through a staged and comprehensive agreement, with strict security provisions, keeping our population centers in the West Bank and the important Jordan Valley region.
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    Members of the Hamas military wing in Gaza
    Members of the Hamas military wing in Gaza
    Members of Hamas' military wing in Gaza
    (Photo: EPA)
    All of this should be done through American support in order to ensure a true change in the societal and economic reality of both peoples.
    In the Gaza Strip, where sits an independent and failing entity threatening Israel, a long term ceasefire should be reached, including a provision for the return of Israeli hostages, the economic development of the region and a total disarmament of the terror factions in the coastal enclave.

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