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IDF Generals` Letter: `Embrace Saudi Plan`
J.J. Goldberg
Forward
3.11.2014


Here’s the complete text of the open letter to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from 100-plus retired generals, Mossad directors and national police commissioners. The translation was supplied by the Israel Policy Forum and appears on their website here. The Hebrew original, which was prepared as an advertisement in the Israeli press, is here (PDF).
Reading the complete text, two points emerge that I got wrong in yesterday’s blog post, in which I described the statement based on two Israeli press accounts. First, there are 103 signers, not 106 (as Mako-Channel 2 reported) or 105 (as Yediot Ahronot-Ynet reported). That’s two former Mossad directors and three national police commissioners (four of those five left the IDF with ranks of brigadier or major general) plus 98 other retired brigadier and major generals.
Second, the letter raises the Arab Peace Initiative directly and forcefully, not implicitly. It’s fair to say that the existence of the initiative (text here) is central to the generals’ argument: The Arab states have announced unanimously (with the Palestinian Authority included as a voting member) that they are willing to make full peace with the state of Israel and “consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended” under certain circumstances, and that the circumstances can be negotiated. It may be that the gaps between Israel’s needs and their demands are too wide to be bridged. But why not find out?
Here’s the other question, directed to our readers: Many of you have responded to this and similar arguments by raising threats to Israel that you don’t think are taken seriously in this approach. My question: What do you know that these guys don’t? And if Israel’s generals are so dumb, how have they managed to keep Israel alive this long? Do you think they’ve won seven wars without understanding the nature of the threats they were facing down?
Here’s the letter:
To: The Prime Minister — Mr. Binyamin Netanyahu
Jerusalem
Re: Political-regional outlook—two states for two peoples
Dear Prime Minister,
We, the undersigned, are IDF commanders and police officers in the reserves that have fought in Israel’s wars.
We know from experience the heavy and painful price exacted by these wars; we fought powerfully for the State in the hope that our children would live here in peace. But the reality is that we are again sending our children to the battlefields, watching them don uniforms and bulletproof vests to fight in Operation Protective Edge.
We were impressed by your level-headed leadership in Operation Protective Edge; in those circumstances Israel could not and cannot allow fire on our homes nor to put the public in danger. But this operation may turn out to be in vain if we do not act to prevent the next war. The government of Israel and its residents do not have the privilege of sitting around idly. It is time to take responsibility for our future and take advantage of the historical opportunity that has come up following Operation Protective Edge.
We are in the midst of the memorial days marking the fallen of the Yom Kippur War, a war that stemmed from the political blindness of the Israeli leadership. We are concerned that similar blindness will thwart the opportunity before us. Therefore we call on you to adopt the political-regional approach and begin negotiations with moderate Arab states and with the Palestinians (in the West Bank and in Gaza, too) based on the Saudi-Arab Peace Initiative, as proposed to Israel by the President of Egypt Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi at the recent international conference in Cairo, and Saudi Prince Turki Al Faisal last July.
Sir, you yourself have declared a political horizon and stated that there are shared interests. You know that the moderate Arab states want to promote together with us a political arrangement that will enable us to confront our mutual enemies together and stabilize the Middle East.
You know that this is the real answer to the Iranian threat and the terror threats of ISIL, Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaida and other terrorist organizations. You also know that only the political-regional approach and an arrangement with the moderate Arab states has a chance of bringing about an agreement with the Palestinians, stability, security and economic prosperity.
The political-regional approach brings with it great hope. Only this approach can create the dramatic political change that will lead to socio-economic growth and turn Israel into model society for its citizens, the Jews of the Diaspora and the nations of the world. Only this approach can be the weight that will tip the socio-economic scale, lower the high cost of living and impact the quality of life of the public that is raising its voice in economic protest.
This is not a question of right or left. This is not a question of fear. This is another idea for the solution of the conflict that is not based on negotiations with the Palestinians that have failed time and again.
Sir, please do not join those who, every other day, use warnings of danger as an excuse to do nothing. We know what is necessary to achieve security for Israel, and we know that regional cooperation will contribute to this goal.
There is a high chance that this initiative will succeed! But even if it doesn’t, you owe this to the people of Israel.
Only then can we look our children and grandchildren in the eye and say: “We tried; we are sorry, we did not succeed.”
We expect of you a courageous initiative, leadership and vision.
As a fighter, you were raised on the slogan “only he who dares, succeeds.”
As a politician, adopt the slogan “only he who initiates, succeeds.”
Lead the way and we will stand behind you!
Undersigned: Zamir, Zvi, former head of Mossad, Major General (res). Yatom, Danny, former MK; former head of Mossad; Major General (res). Hefetz, Assaf, Commissioner (ret.) Turner, Yaakov, Commissioner (ret.) ; Brigadier General (res.) Shaffir, Herzl, Commissioner (ret.) Major General (res.) Avigdor, Gideon, Brigadier General (res.) Even Zahav, Yehu, Brigadier General (res.) Egozi, Shlomo, Brigadier General (res.) Agmon, Uri, Brigadier General (res.) Agmon, Yoram, Brigadier General (res.) Ohayon, Berti, Major General (ret.- police) Ophir, Gabi, Major General (res.) Oron, Israela, Brigadier General (res.) Ilya, Shlomo, Brigadier General (res.) Almog, Avraham, Brigadier General (res.) Almog, Zeev, Major General (res.) Erez, Haim, Major General (res.) Erez, Oded, Brigadier General (res.) Asher, Danny, Brigadier General (res.) Baharav, Yisrael, Brigadier General (res.) Biton, Dan, Major General (res.) Ben Bashat, David, Major General (res.) Ben David, Shimon, Brigadier General (res.) Ben Nun, Aviyahu, Major General (res.) Ben Porat, Mordechai, Brigadier General (res.) Ben Reuven, Eyal, Major General (res.) Bar, (Y.B.) Yehuda, Brigadier General (res.) Bar-David, Avraham, Brigadier General (res.) Baram, Amos, Brigadier General (res.) Barak, Haim, Brigadier General (res.) Gavish, Yeshayahu (Shaike), Major General (res.) Givoli, Shaul, Major General (ret.- police); Brigadier General (res.) Gonen, Yosef, Brigadier General (res.) Gofen, Haim, Brigadier General (res.) Goren, Giora, Brigadier General (res.) Gazit, Shlomo, Major General (res.) Gross, Ehud, Brigadier General (res.) Dolev, Eran, Brigadier General (res.) Dotan, Yishai, Brigadier General (res.) Dotan, Rami, Brigadier General (res.) Waks, Shlomo, Brigadier General (res.) Vardi, Danny, Brigadier General (res.) Zohar, Avi, Brigadier General (res.) Zacharin, Zeev, Brigadier General (res.) Zamir, Itzhak, Brigadier General (res.) Zaken, Nahum, Brigadier General (res.) Haike, Giora, Brigadier General (res.) Hefetz, Shimon, Brigadier General (res.) Tiller, Avi, Major General (ret.- police) Tal, Alex, Major General (res.) Taran, Benny, Major General (res.) Yutov, Herzl, Major General (ret.- police) Yoseph, Eyal, Brigadier General (res.) Yaari, Aviezer (Avi), Major General (res.) Yitzhaki, Yair, Major General (ret.- police) Yitzhaki, Sasson, Brigadier General (res.) Yaron, Amos, Major General (res.) Kitri, Ron, Brigadier General (res.) Lev, Giora, Brigadier General (res.) Lev Tzur, Uzi, Brigadier General (res.) Levi, Asher, Brigadier General (res.) Levin, Amiram, Major General (res.) Lapid, Ephrain, Brigadier General (res.) Lapidot, Amos, Major General (res.) Morag, Ami, Brigadier General (res.) Mizrachi, Avi, Major General (res.) Mizrachi, Aryeh, Brigadier General (res.) Mitzna, Amram, MK; Major General (res.) Maron, Menachem (Modi), Major General (res.) Spector, Yiftach, Brigadier General (res.) Spector, Moshe, Brigadier General (res.) Ivri-Sukenik, Moshe, Major General (res.) Eilam, Uzi, Brigadier General (res.) Eini, Menachem,, Brigadier General (res.) Einan, Menachem, Major General (res.) Amir, Amos, Brigadier General (res.) Inbar, Menashe, Brigadier General (res.) Inbar, Shlomo, Major General (res.) Peled, Elad, Major General (res.) Palant, Emi, Brigadier General (res.) Tsur, David (Tsuri) , MK, Major General (ret.- police) Kadmiel, Doron, Brigadier General (res.) Koren, Zeev, Brigadier General (res.) Keinan-Kauli, Eitan, Brigadier General (res.) Kanor, Zvi. Brigadier General (res.) Krauza, David, Major General (ret.- police) Keren, Aryeh, Brigadier General (res.) Rabin, Yitzhak, Brigadier General (res.) Rothschild, Danny, Major General (res.) Rom, Giora, Major General (res.) Ron, Elik, Major General (ret.- police) Ram (Furman), Giora, Brigadier General (res.) Ram, Micha, Major General (res.) Reshef, Amnon, Major General (res.) Saguy, Uri, Major General (res.) Shachor, Oren, Major General (res.) Stern, Elazar, MK; Major General (res.) Shalom, Hagai, Major General (res.) Sheffi, Shaul, Brigadier General (res.) Shaked, Emanuel (Mano), Brigadier General (res.) Sharon, Menachem, Brigadier General (res.) Sharoni, Nati, Major General (res.) Tamari, Dov, Brigadier General (res.)


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