By Raphael Ahren
In a bid for world domination, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is deliberately flooding Europe with Muslims to “Islamicize” the continent, former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon charged.
In a far-reaching interview, the former minister and ex-IDF chief of staff also addressed Donald Trump’s initiative to broker Israeli-Palestinian peace, urging the US president to “not even try” to reach a final status agreement between the two sides.
Today, three different streams of Islamic extremism aspire to global hegemony, said Ya’alon, who announced he will compete for the Israel premiership in the next elections. “Iranian Shiite Islam, the Sunni Islamic caliphate and the Muslim Brotherhood, led by Erdogan.”
The Turkish president for years allowed jihadists from across the world to come to Syria and Iraq and return to their countries as skilled fighters, the former minister charged. He cited the Greek defense minister as complaining to him last year about Turkey promoting illegal immigration to his country from Arab and Muslim states. The Greek official told Ya’alon about a young Moroccan, who on his way to Germany, arrived in Greece on a rubber boat after having flown to Turkey. Apparently, the man had paid only $50 for the ticket from Marrakech to Istanbul.
“That was a subsidized flight. Who subsidized it? They’re being pushed to Europe,” Ya’alon said. The authorities in Athens gave Turkish intelligence a list of 1,224 Turks who were being smuggled to Europe, but Ankara denied any involvement, Ya’alon cited the Greek minister as saying.
“Erdogan is acting like a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and he wants to Islamicize Europe,” Ya’alon said. “So when the Europeans demanded he stop this stream [of refugees], what did he ask them? To allow Turks to go to Europe without visas. And what did he tell Turks living in Europe three weeks ago? To increase their birth rates! That’s the Islamization of Europe.”
In a rally in March, for instance, Erdogan urged his compatriots in Europe to have “not just three but five children.”
In addition, Turkey is funding mosques and Islamic cultural centers all over Europe, especially in the Balkans, the former defense minister said. “He wants hegemony also in Europe.”
Ya’alon — who had a falling out with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year, after which he quit the government and the Knesset — said the new US administration appears to be much closer to Israel’s position than that of Barack Obama.
“After eight years of great gaps between Israel and US there is potential for change,” he said, lauding Netanyahu for standing up to Obama. Ya’alon also praised Trump for considering Iran as “the core of the problem in the Middle East, and not as part of the solution,” as the Obama administration did, he said.
A dairy farmer-turned-general-turned-politician, Ya’alon accuses Netanyahu of corruption and of seeking to undermine Israel’s democracy, but agrees with him wholeheartedly on most, if not all, security and defense matters (though he said he was not happy about the June 2016 reconciliation deal Israel struck with Turkey).
Ya’alon — who said former US secretary of State John Kerry was “messianic” and “obsessive” due to his belief he could broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace — was careful not to criticize Trump or his team. But he also did not hide his opinion that any attempt to broker Israeli-Palestinian peace was bound to fail — even if it was done by Trump.
“If someone in the White House believes that he can bring about a permanent agreement, that’s a guaranteed recipe for failure,” said Ya’alon, who grew in the Labor movement but in the 1990s became more hawkish and eventually joined the Likud party.
Trump has repeatedly said that he is not only determined to attempt to reach a peace agreement, but also that it may actually be easier to achieve than people believe.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is more complicated than merely professing support for a one-state or a two-state solution, Ya’alon went on.
“We have to be realistic. The gap between us and Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas], who is considered moderate compared to Hamas, is enormous,” Ya’alon added. “He is unwilling to agree even on an [interim] agreement with agreed borders that would end the conflict. He’s unwilling to recognize a Jewish state, which is the core of the conflict. It’s not about the settlements, but about their refusal to recognize the Jewish state.”
When Palestinians speak about the “occupation” they refer to 1948 — Israel’s founding — and not to the 1967 Six Day War, in which Israel captured Gaza and the West Bank, Ya’alon told The Times of Israel in the Tel Aviv offices of his new political NGO, called “A Different Leadership.”
“That is a gap that I don’t see even Trump being able to bridge.”
Rather, Ya’alon suggests the White House aim for more modest goals, like strengthening the economy, infrastructure and security in the Palestinian territories, fighting incitement to violence and reforming the Palestinian education system, which preaches hatred for Jews and Israelis.
Ya’alon, 66, said he supported the Oslo Accords at the time but his optimism for peace declined when, as head of military intelligence, he informed then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin that the Palestinian leadership was not preparing its people for peace. “The opposite is the case,” he recalled telling Rabin, citing Palestinian television programs for children and textbooks.
“If today I were asked to give advice to the Trump administration it would be this: There is no chance to reach a permanent agreement. Don’t even try to reach a permanent agreement,” Ya’alon said.
Ya’alon said he hopes that Trump, as an experienced businessman, will pursue a “realistic” Middle East policy. “Time will tell what President Trump intends to do. I don’t see him running yet toward a permanent agreement,” he said. “I think that he won’t be able to bridge the gaps between us and the Palestinians. Not because of us — because the Palestinian rejectionism is consistent.”
Besides getting the Palestinians to end incitement and paying “salaries” to terrorists, the White House should also work on advancing a regional alignment between Israel and the Sunni Arab states who seen in Iran a common enemy.
“At this point, the concept of an Israeli-Arab conflict is not relevant. There is no Arab-Israeli conflict. There is only an Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Ya’alon said. “I hope that the reports that President Trump heard from the Arabs, and accepted it, that the region cannot be stabilized before the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is solved, are false. I am sure he heard it.”
The moderate Sunni Arab states are fairly enthusiastic about Trump’s effort to broker peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Ya’alon posited. “They have other worries,” he said, citing domestic issues and Iran as the most worrying external threat. “I can guarantee you: They don’t care about the Palestinians.”
Ya’alon said he was not too worried that Trump, who got close to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, would try to pressure Israel into accepting the Arab Peace Initiative, dismissing it as a “diktat” that Jerusalem could not possibly consider.
During his time in government, Israel “tried to reach agreements” with the Arabs, urging them to present an updated peace proposal, “something that is not a diktat,” he recalled. “But they did not come. I don’t know if they will come now.”
Find out more: Islam in Europe