Minister for Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya’alon at the 2012 Herzliya

Minister for Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya’alon at the 2012 Herzliya Conference: Iran developing 10 000 kilometer nuclear capability

The Middle East’s leading security & policy gathering concludes today at the IDC Herzliya Campus

In the keynote address of the session: „The Ticking Clock: Dissuading and Containing Iran’s Strategic Ambitions” on the final day of the 2012 Herzliya Conference, MK Lt. Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya’alon, Israeli vice prime minister and minister for strategic affairs criticized the West saying there are erroneous „conceptual links made by western like-minded people but also leaders in the west” regarding the connection between Israel and the rest of the Middle East. The greatest link is the claim that the Arab Spring is a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


He went further to say that „When a western person asks himself why do the Muslims attack us?” They cannot fathom that it could be possible that they want to get Islam to become a world religion and so, they blame the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This „creates the wrong paradigm about what happens around here.” He added that it was difficult for people to understand that there’s another culture with jihadistic principles that sanctifies death. „I would say that to a great extent this is ignorance coupled with naivety.”


Ya’alon stressed that the absolutely clear position – by Israel – is that these events [the Arab Spring, terrorism etc.] „are not a result of the existence of Israel or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict… If you don’t understand this, you can make a mistake with regard to the Iranian situation too.”


Another problem prominent in the way the West views the Middle East regards „This patronizing attitude where you think you know what’s better for another country.” Ya’alon added that the West had come to Israel with the „a new patronizing idea” of „democratization.” He noted „We would love to see democracies around us but if you think democracy can be applied by elections, you are making a mistake.” He criticized the fact that „we have gotten used to the idea that every problem has a solution… we are so patronizing and feel so powerful that we feel that we can solve everything… Mankind arrived on the moon so why can’t we solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?” Ya’alon explained, regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that sometimes we need to realize that „there are some things that we can’t solve, it has to be managed.” He added that we live in a world of instant gratification and in the same way that we are used to instant food, we believe that we can have instant peace: „Food now, peace now, democracy now.”


Moving on to discuss Iran specifically, Ya’alon said that Israel has no border or territorial conflict with that country and that „when Iran says it wants to wipe Israel off the map, it’s not based on conflict between Judea and Samaria.” He added that Israel had never declared war on or with Iran and that the two countries had, in fact, had excellent relations until the present regime. When it comes to the idea of Iran against Israel, Ya’alon was firm, „western failure ignores the fact that Israel is seen as the little Satan…The big Satan is America.” According to Ya’alon, the real Iranian challenge can be perceived as imaginary but they are challenging western culture and western hegemony. „This regime is being very proactive – doing active things to threaten western hegemony… When we look around its difficult to find a strife in the Middle East where the Iranians are not somehow involved.”


Ya’alon stated „This regime [Iran] has already built missile capability” and added that the R&D missile center where the recent explosion took place was developing a missile with a 10 000 kilometer range. This was „aimed at America not us,” he said. „Our claim is that the military problem in Iran needs to be stopped… Such a non-conventional regime should not have such non-conventional capabilities.”


Naming four points of interest, Ya’alon explained „We argue and think, and this is the Israeli policy, that we need to stop the Iranian nuclear project.” This should include a combination of political isolation, economic sanctions, support for the opposition in Iran and a reliable military option. According to Ya’alon, the success of the sanctions would burden the regime to such an extent that they would be motivated for survival rather than the continuation of their nuclear program. „The clock keeps ticking… We should be talking sooner rather than later… So if anyone here is scared or fears the prospects for the Middle East and the world, they should be determined in the next few months to take steps against the nuclear action in Iran.”


All of the proceedings are broadcast live with a VOD option on the Conference’s website: