In one of his most controversial remarks yet, the Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Tuesday he would rather see Syria falling in the hands of the Islamic State group than Iran and its allies defeating the group, ignoring the plight of the Syrian people who live and suffer under the Islamic State group.
If defense minister openly endorses ISIS-type chaos over dealing with other states maybe Israel is not a force for stability in Middle East.
— Murtaza Hussain (@MazMHussain) 19 января 2016
“In Syria, if the choice is between Iran and the Islamic State [group], I choose the Islamic State. They don’t have the capabilities that Iran has,” Ya’alon told the audience at a conference organized by the Institute of National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. “Our greatest enemy is the Iranian regime that has declared war on us,” the defense minister said of the threats facing Israel. The comments come three days after the Iran nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers came into effect. Israel remains one of the few opponents to the deal. According to the Israeli minister through the nuclear deal and recent lifting of sanctions, Tehran “has escaped international isolation” and become a “central player” in Syria, he continued.
Ya’alon’s comments confirmed a long-standing policy of Israel: The Islamic State group is not a threat to Tel Aviv while Iran and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group, which is fighting alongside President Bashar Assad in Syria, were a bigger threat to Israel.
This policy is clearly demonstrated through the non-Israeli involvement into the fight against the extremist group led by its ally the United States. However, throughout the five-year Syrian conflict, Israel has several times bombed Hezbollah and Syrian government targets.
In fact, last month an Israeli air strike killed Hezbollah leader Samir Qantar in the Syrian capital Damascus.
The Israeli policy and the comments by the head of its military Tuesday come to show how Israel remains disconnected from the suffering of the people in its neighboring country Syria. As long as the Islamic State group does not threaten Israel, Tel Aviv will see it as an event that does not concern it.
“Israel sees Islamic State as something that’s happening to other people — and the country will do its best to keep it so,” Mariam Karouny, Reuters Deputy Bureau Chief Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, wrote in a column in October last year.
In fact, according to Karouny, Israel has been using the “unfolding catastrophe” which is the rise of the Islamic State group to legitimize its crackdown on Palestinians calling for end of occupation.
“With the West again mobilizing against a radical Islamist group, Netanyahu find himself on the familiar turf of the “war on terror.” He is capitalizing on this by trying to equate Palestinian nationalism — especially the religious wing of it — with Islamic State [group] at every conceivable opportunity.”