A group of high-ranking Israeli military officers, reservists, intelligence officials, and former soldiers says that the U.S. pullout from Afghanistan has set the country up to be a “hotbed” for terrorism.
Israel’s Defense and Security Forum: HaBithonistim, which represents roughly 2,400 current and former Israeli military and security officials, published an open letter to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Wednesday pushing Bennett to rebuff U.S. President Joe Biden’s push for a new nuclear deal with Iran. The security officials cited the ongoing chaos in Afghanistan as an example of U.S. failures in the Middle East.
“In the last few weeks there has been a significant shift in the Middle East geopolitical landscape with deep ranging implications and long-term consequences for Israel,” the letter says, according to Arutz Sheva 7. “The US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the swift dominance of the Taliban have highlighted the failures of current approaches to diplomacy and military strategy. Absent a new way of thinking, these radical, terrorist factions will only grow and bolster the extremists within the Palestinian and Israeli Arabs as well as the Iranian people.”
Bennett is scheduled to hold his first meeting with Biden as prime minister on Thursday in Washington, D.C. Bennett is expected to press Biden against striking a new deal with Iran, arguing any deal similar to former President Barack Obama’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action would pave a way for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon while appearing to work with Western powers. Bennett’s government has already voiced strong opposition to such a deal.
The HaBithonistim letter urged Bennett to push Biden toward a more aggressive anti-terrorism and anti-appeasement strategy in the Middle East.
“Israel and the U.S. must stop the dated monolithic approach to the Middle East, and more particularly to the Israel-Palestinian conflict,” the letter said. “Withdrawal and retreat. Those are the stale options that career politicians have been espousing since 1967. They allow for factions like the Taliban to seize control and brutalize their people. Every place we retreat from becomes a hotbed of terror. It happened in Gaza with Hamas and it happened in Afghanistan with the Taliban.”
“[T]he US role in the Middle East is not what it was. The US no longer maintains the hegemony of 30 years ago, Russia and Iran are dominating the region, and radical Islamic forces are coordinated, trained and well-funded,” the letter continued. “We expect you to make it clear to the United States and the world that Jerusalem is the united and eternal capital of Israel. Opening an American consulate to Palestinians in Jerusalem constitutes a de facto partition of the city and jeopardizes the future of the country. There is nothing innovative or forward thinking about this.”
“Alongside the Palestinian issue, it must be emphasized that a new agreement must be sought with Iran. Retreat and withdrawal is not a viable option – do we need to be reminded of that again?” the security officials concluded.