Iran and the possible collapse of the Palestinian Authority (PA) are two threats facing Israel, according to Brigadier General Dror Shalom, head of the Research Division of Israel's Military Intelligence Directorate.
Shalom told Yedioth Ahronoth daily that the threat of terrorism is increasing especially that the youth in Judea and Samaria, in the West Bank, can’t earn a living amid the coronavirus pandemic and its economic repercussions.
He highlighted three main reasons that contributed to maintaining stability including the Israeli army, the “somehow acceptable” economic situation, and the security coordination with the Palestinians before it was suspended.
The official indicated that despite signing two peace treaties with the UAE and Bahrain, the Palestinian cause is a “ticking bomb”.
He explained that the Palestinian cause brings Arab states together, and the two peace treaties were signed because the plans to annex parts of the West Bank were postponed.
“Empowering the Palestinian Authority is within the interest of Israel’s security," said Shalom, warning that Arabs still hate Israel and “the situation in the region should be improved."
Asked about the situation in the Gaza Strip, Shalom said it remains a challenge even if it is a “secondary front" now.
The official admitted that the situation could escalate, noting that four years ago, the Israeli intelligence issued a strategic alert on the Strip.
Studies showed there is a civil-economic crisis in Gaza, which would push Hamas to change its policy, noted Shalom.
He also said Hamas chief in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar is a different kind of leader who is interested in showing his success in reconstructing Gaza, adding that Sinwar does not seek a war in the Strip and Hamas is fully aware of the strength of the Israeli army.
Shalom indicated that Tel Aviv managed to push Hamas into “rock-bottom” without engaging in a war, adding that maintaining the current situation in Gaza is favorable so that Israel can focus on Iran.
On Iran, Shalom said that so far, the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal has not served Israel's interests. He supports a strategy of pressuring Tehran, noting that Iran as a superpower has weakened.
The future US strategy includes exerting maximum pressure until reaching a deal.
Iran is capable of possessing a nuclear bomb within two years of its decision to build one, which worries Shalom, given that the duration is not long.