May 24, 2007

Financial Times Interview: Benjamin Netanyahu

An excerpt from an interview with Benjamin Netanyahu, from Financial Times:

FT: One final question: do you see the real danger that the war that happened last summer is going to be repeated very soon?

BN: I hope not. But it could be. The result of the war is – if there's one thing I have learned is that you don't purchase peace by weakness or vacillation. If there's one lesson I have learned is that you purchase peace from strength. Israel had seven countries attack it when it was an embryonic state in 1948. That number went down to three in 1967. It went down to two in 1973, because we had this huge wall – the Samarian and Judean mountains, which prevented invasion along our thinnest part. And then it went down to one in the Lebanon war in 1982. That trajectory was the one that produced Camp David and the peace with Jordan.

Unfortunately, for the first time the perception that Israel's deterrence power is overwhelming was hurt by the mismanagement of this war, which Israel could easily have won. And the result is that we now have three live fronts: one Hizbollah, which has rearmed itself with more weapons than it had before the war and better kinds of weapons; second, Gaza, which is turning itself into a second Lebanon; and, third, Syria, which is arming itself feverishly, which is something it hasn't done in thirty years.

That underscores the point I made: if you want peace in our neighbourhood, you have to project strength. In a way the Lebanon war was a disappointment for most of the regimes in the Arab world because they too have been threatened by militant Islam and its offshoots, Iran and its offshoots. And they had actually secretly – and not so secretly – yearned for an Israeli victory.

We don't seek an additional round, but if it is forced upon us by miscalculation by our neighbours, then we have to win this time decisively, not just for the safety of our own people, but in order to roll back the enemies of coexistence of peace and give peace a chance.