Yadlin replied that the Palestinians are only Israel’s number four threat in the IDI’s assessment, following Iran, Syria, and Hizballah. Although the Palestinians are not the IDI’s top concern, Yadlin said he would answer the question by noting that it will take time to marry Netanyahu’s approach to Fayyad’s. If the parties attempt to move straight to resolving the conflict, the attempt will collapse and result in violence as in the start of the Second Intifada after the 2000 Camp David summit. The key question is how can the Palestinian Authority control terrorism. Yadlin said the USSC General Dayton is doing “a very good job” of training the PA Security Forces, but Yadlin quoted Dayton as saying that the PASF will need three to five years to build its counter-terrorist capabilities, including a functioning justice system.
Yadlin said the IDF is out of the Jenin area unless it receives reports of a “ticking bomb.” The PA, however, is ignoring Gaza and Fayyad insists on paying salaries in Gaza, which helps Hamas. Yadlin said this is a “big mistake.” Yadlin noted that the Palestinians have created two entities. President Abbas and Fayyad condemn terrorism and stress that Palestinian national goals can be achieved through negotiations. They rule in the West Bank with Israel’s assistance. In Gaza, a terrorist organization is in power and Hamas preaches that Palestinian aspirations can be achieved through terrorism. This division provides Israel with a “historic opportunity” to prove that Hamas’ approach will fail.
In terms of the U.S.-Israel bilateral relationship, the Israeli media overwhelmingly agreed that the first Bush administration had been a good friend to Israel. “Conventional wisdom in Israel,” wrote a senior columnist from pluralist Yediot Aharonot on November 1, “is that Bush was and will be the ideal American president from Israel’s perspective. The best there is. Israel has no interest in seeing him replaced, and it has every interest in seeing him reelected.” Most commentators agreed, however, that both candidates shared a political record of support for Israel – for better or for worse. A senior columnist for left-wing Ha’aretz observed on October 18 that “regardless of whether Bush is reelected or John Kerry takes his place, there will be no `pressure’ from America” in terms of U.S.-Israel relations.