Jerusalem, Dec. 5 – Israel is not the only target of Iranian threats, a former senior Israeli official said.
"Israel shares a number of top threats with other countries in the Middle East; the main one is Iranian influence,” the official said at a briefing for foreign diplomats organized by The Israel Project. He said that Iranian interference goes beyond Syria and Iraq and its obvious threat to the sovereignty of Lebanon, into Jordan and beyond.
Should the strategic Bab al-Mandeb shipping channel, the strait located between the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa, fall into the hands of extremist elements, Egypt and Saudi Arabia will be greatly affected, he noted. The narrow Bab al-Mandeb is a vital trade route that effectively connects the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez Canal.
"Peace between Israel and its neighbors is what we should aspire to. But unfortunately, such peace is against Iranian interests," he said. Iran arms, funds and trains Hezbollah and Hamas, both recognized as terrorist groups that oppose peace with Israel.
When discussing Syria, the Israeli official said: "I see the survival of the rule of Assad as an essential part of the power struggles in the region. The fall of Assad, if it happens, will not be quick - this is a long process whose result will have a decisive impact on the balance of the region. Survival of Assad, in addition to increasing Iranian influence in Iraq, will be a victory for Iran as it strengthens its axis in the Middle East."
He noted that Israel is a stable democracy in a region that is experiencing widespread revolutions.
The official noted that "for the first time in several years we are not the main issue in the Middle East.” With a view to the upheavals, he said that Israel hopes that “for citizens of Arab countries, the final outcome of the revolutions will be stable governments that reflect the desires of their citizens. The key word is stability, not only military conflict, to aid in the region’s economic growth."
Egyptian influence on Palestinians continues to be a positive influence, the official said, and that Egyptian mediation in the peace process still “might bring negotiations and peace between Israel and its neighbors—and stability to the area."