Amos Yadlin was the Labor party’s candidate for defense minister in Israel’s 2015 elections, served as deputy commander of the Israeli air force and later as the head of IDF intelligence, and in 1981 flew one of the planes that bombed Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear reactor. In conversation with Zev Chafets, he discusses some of the threats and challenges confronting the Jewish state. On the possibility of war with Hizballah, Yadlin comments:
[Israel must] prepare not for a third war in Lebanon but for the first “northern war,” one that will be fought not only against Hizballah but against Syria and Iranians in Syria, all along the northern front. . . . Israel has a better air force [and] better intelligence [than its enemies], and it has learned the lessons of previous wars and implemented them. This time, for example, it will not differentiate between Hizballah and Lebanon. And if Bashar al-Assad joins the fighting, he could well lose everything he has gained, with Russian help, over the past two years. . . .
[Nonetheless], we will pay a higher price than we did during the Lebanon war of 2006, especially on the home front. Israel has developed a very effective defensive shield built on several layers and dimensions, including the world’s best missile-defense system. We have intelligence capabilities that will allow us to destroy some long-range rockets on their launch pads. We can also mitigate damage [at home] with an early-warning system that will give civilians a couple of minutes to reach shelter. But there will be substantial damage.
Israelis are resilient. But they are also critical. There is an asymmetrical balance of expectations on both sides. They want the IDF to protect them 100-percent, to win the war in six days, and to force the other side to raise a white flag of surrender. This will never happen. If we measure the score of the next war like a basketball game, Israel will win 99 to 19. Hizballah will declare a divinely inspired victory. Israelis will complain and nominate a committee to investigate the failure.
As for the possibilities of an American peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians, rumored to be in the making, Yadlin comments:
As an Israeli, I’m praying that it will be a success. As an analyst, I think the chances for a final deal are close to zero. But if President Trump can come up with something that is good enough for now—an arrangement that preserves Israeli security, enables Palestinian state-building from the bottom up, and demonstrates to our Arab allies that we are sincere—he will deserve a Nobel Prize. The rest of the unbridgeable parameters he can leave for future generations to solve.