Despite last year’s deal to stall its plans to develop nuclear weapons, Iran remains a bigger threat to Israel and the West than ISIS, the Israeli Consul General to Toronto and Western Canada said during a briefing presented by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs by teleconference last Friday.
“ISIS is a real threat. Our assessment is that Iran remains a larger threat in the bigger picture,” DJ Schneeweiss said. “Our concern is that in the rush to try to address ISIS, we make a mistake in forgetting about the Iranian side of it and folding Iran into the effort to defeat ISIS.”
“We have not seen a strategic shift in the Iranian agenda and Iranian intentions and it’s a crucial thing… In this case, the deal that has been signed is one that has curtailed or delayed Iranian intentions, but it has not been secured as a function of an Iranian choice to abandon those ambitions.”
Schneeweiss said that the original demand by the P5+1 countries was that there could be inspections at any time without warning. This was meant to give the West confidence that it could properly monitor whether Iran was living up to its part of the deal.
“But ‘anytime, anywhere inspections’ were abandoned – that was one of the prices that the P5 +1 had to abandon in order to secure Iranian agreement.”
He said other aspects of the agreement, such as shutting the nuclear reactors down, were only temporary.
“Those will end after 10 years, or 15 years. So yes, we may have put off the threat of an Iranian bomb for a few years, but … 10 years from now, if the world is not careful, we will see an unrestrained Iran with an ability to develop nuclear weapons with the full glories of international legitimacy.”
He said the Israeli position on Iran will not soften or “go softly into the dark.”
“Iran continues to prosecute a proxy war against Israel through Hezbollah and now has approximately 100,000 rockets pointed at Israeli civilians and 240 villages in Southern Lebanon have been converted into rocket assault bases. Hezbollah and Iran have an ongoing military involvement in Syria. Iran is also intervening in Gaza and funding Hamas there. Iran is developing ballistic missiles and even intercontinental ballistic missiles, all of which are against explicit international commitments that have forced the UN and the United States to re-instigate sanctions against Iran on that file.”
He said Israel will continue to monitor those developments and warn against violations.
Switching to the topic of terror attacks on Israelis, he said since the beginning of October, Israel has suffered 110 stabbing attacks, 38 shootings, and 22 deliberate vehicle ramming attacks.
“How we address it is the big question. In terms of analysis, there are a lot of young people who are involved in this. People who don’t yet have the wisdom of age, but have been exposed to the kinds of materials and ideas that make them particularly vulnerable and particularly dangerous,” he said.
“There are questions that need to be asked of the Palestinian leadership and those who see themselves as friends of the Palestinians. What is being done to end the abuse of the younger generation of Palestinians? What is being done to encourage a more self-serving approach to life?”
Schneeweiss said that apart from the damage it causes to both Israelis and Palestinians individually, the violence diminishes support for a territorial compromise from Israel, which is necessary for the potential establishment of a Palestinian state.
“The only way the Israeli public is going to agree to the kinds of concessions that would be required of Israel for such a deal, the only way that is going to happen is if the Israeli public is going to be assured that handing over that territory is not suicidal.”