Ehud Ya’ari talks to the media

June 11, 2009 by Community Editor
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Leading Israeli political commentator and analyst Ehud Ya’ari spoke to media in Sydney this week.

Ehud Ya'ari

Ehud Ya'ari

Ya’ari told the media conference that he considered US President Barak Obama’s Cairo speech to have been aimed at the Egyptian “Moslem brotherhood” and no-one else. He said that the speech contained no reference to the existing peace between Israel and Egypt and that Obama had made the same plea that he had made to Hamas to drop violence and terrorism…but he did not elaborate on these issues in his speech.

On the Lebanese elections, Ya’ari firmly believes the results reflect a defeat for Hezbollah, who he said did not have aspirations to change Lebanon other than into a confrontational State opposed to Israel, equipping Lebanon with free weaponry from Iran.

According to Ya’ari, who describes himself as “an Arabist”, Palestinian Christians have fled the region in great numbers and he said there are now more Palestinian Christians living in Santiago than in Bethlehem.

He  turned his focus to Syria claiming that a peace document between Syria and Israel is “now available”. Developments to date involve turning the Golan Heights area into a park controlled by Syria but offering free access for Israelis. Balancing that would be the withdrawal of Syrian demands to control the shore line of Lake Galilee. But the major stumbling block on the road to a peace deal remains Syria’s 30-year-old alliance withIran.

The analyst showed some concern for the Israel-Palestine two State solution. “The train is leaving the station” he said, referring to the “harsher positions” the Palestinians are currently taking.

But his main focus was on Iran.  He told the journalists that Ahmandinejad would win the upcoming elections , “even if it meant rigging them…and he knows how to do that.”

As Iran continues down the nuclear road, Israel is upping its defence  ante by upgrading its anti-ballistic systems. But he does not believe Iran will weaponise. In response to questions, Ya’ari said that Iran could not be prepared to carry out nuclear attacks until it had built up an arsenal of at least twenty bombs and that would take years. He quoted Japan as being a country which had devloped nuclear capabilities up unto the point of weaponising but “had not crossed the threshhold.” He added that he was not convinced that North Korea had nuclear weapons and explained the difference between testing nuclear devices and nuclear bombs.

He said that the Iranians compared themselves with the Chinese in being two of world’s “great civilisations” . Even so, he said that they did depend on the West for the development of the oil industry, underlining the fact that Iran still has to import more than 40% of refined oil products.

One surprising revelation was his analysis of the Arab countries need for defence against Iran and Ya’ariv said they were collectively lobbying Obama to keep their positions in mind. He claimed Qatar had openly supported Israel’s nuclear position as representing a deterrent against Iran.

His simple answer when asked how the Iranian question could be resolved  was a benign change of regime.

Turning to the settlements, Ya’ari said that the Netanyahu Government may very soon announce a freeze and this may prove to be a result of the current visit of George Mitchell to the region.

Ehud Ya’ari is a highly-regarded commentator and expert on Middle Eastern issues. An award-winning journalist and an associate editor of The Jerusalem Report, he continues to contribute to the New York Times. The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.

His visit to Sydney was arranged by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies. AIJAC hosted Ya’ari in the other States.

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