Former Shin Beit head: Peace with Palestinians an 'Israeli national interest'
Peace agreement with Palestinian Authority will allow Israel to preserve its 'Jewish, democratic character,' says former security service head Yoram Cohen; Cohen also underlines differences between PA, Hamas, says two groups predicated on logic of peace agreement versus logic of resistance.
Former Shin Bet head Yoram Cohen said Thursday Israel should aspire to establish a peace agreement that will enable it to preserve its Jewish and democratic character.
"In my opinion, reaching an agreement with the Palestinian Authority is an Israeli national interest and we have to aspire attain it," Cohen said during a security conference in Herzliya.
Such an agreement, Cohen added, would dramatically reduce Israeli control over the Palestinians and will diminish hostility and animosity, as well as foster security understandings, which would preserve Israel as a Jewish democratic state.
Cohen emphasized that substantial differences between the Israeli and Palestinian stances about core issues, lack of willingness on the Palestinian Authority's part to make significant compromises, an ongoing stalemate in peace talks and the Authority's inability to provide a proper response to existing and future security threats all prevent the two sides from reaching a peace agreement in the next few years.
"One can say that during the past decade, Israel and the Palestinians went through a dramatic change," Cohen analyzed
"The Palestinian Authority used to be a unified system, but Gaza's split from the West Bank led to the existence of a separate entity (in Gaza) that is guided by a different kind of logic," Cohen explained.
"The Palestinian Authority's logic was one that aspired to a peace agreement and Hamas's logic is based on resistance," he went on to say.
"The different stances of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have resulted in a rift between them, which led to contradictory actions, and mutual achievement prevention. The outcome is the absence of reconciliation," Cohen lamented.
The former security agency chief also stated there has been a deceleration in Hamas's military strength building in Gaza, saying the terror organization has lost many valuable assets during the past few years.
"Hamas's attempts to spread terror across the West Bank during the last decade have failed. I was privileged to be among those who led the cease-fire agreement after Operation Protective Edge," he said.
"Since August 25, 2014, all Gazan factions have withheld from shooting into Israel and maintain the state of calm," Cohen continued.
"As we all know, we are witnessing the quietest period we've had in two decades," he posited.
According to Cohen, Israel should be worried about Gaza's infrastructures, including water, sewage, and energy infrastructures. "People can't provide for themselves. There is no poverty, but it's difficult to obtain fluid money and use it. We all know that the lack of growth engines indicates this situation will last for many years to come," Cohen elucidated.
"Recent sanctions the Palestinian Authority has imposed on Hamas as part of its pressure mechanism have obviously also harmed Gaza financially," he concluded.