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Silvan Shalom

Panel Discussions - Monday, May 04, 2009

Israel’s Shalom Sees Middle East Struggle As Between Extremists and Moderates

During a visit to IPI, Silvan Shalom stated that the struggle in the Middle East should not be classed as between Israelis and Palestinians, but between extremists and moderates.

Shalom, who is Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development of Israel, said this in an interview with IPI Vice President Warren Hoge, which took place after a private luncheon on May 4, 2009, with IPI President Terje Rød-Larsen, senior IPI staff, and UN ambassadors.

Shalom, who is Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development of Israel, said this in an interview with IPI Vice President Warren Hoge, which took place after a private luncheon on May 4, 2009, with IPI President Terje Rød-Larsen, senior IPI staff, and UN ambassadors.

download transcript of full interview
 
Below is an excerpt of the interview:

Warren Hoge: You have said that you believe that the struggle in the Middle East should be classed not as between Israelis and Palestinians, but between moderates and extremists. Could you just make that argument from the start?

Silvan Shalom: Absolutely. I think that we should say it in a much bigger way, and not to speak only to the Israel/Palestinian conflict, because it’s much beyond. I think that it’s a fight between the moderate and extremist in the Middle East. The extremist would like to take the lead, they are doing everything they can to undermine the regimes in the moderates in our countries, they would like to empower the Hamas, but not Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas], they would like to change the type of the regime in Egypt, to bring the Muslim Brotherhood there, as well as in Saudi Arabia and other places. So we should stick, one to each other, in order to face the threat and to combat it, and if we will be together, I will say that fighting, we will prevail. It’s very, very easy to talk only about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Of course, it’s the core issue. Of course it’s an important issue, but it’s not the only one. And that’s why I’m trying always to embrace the moderates. That’s why I’m trying always to talk to them, always to try to engage with them, always to implement some project with them.

Warren Hoge: Who are the extremists?

Silvan Shalom: Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Syria, those are very, very extreme, and those who are trying to bring their religion to power, those who are trying to bring the extremism to power. Unfortunately, Iraq could fall to their ranks immediately after the Americans will withdraw, because Sistani [Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani] that is the spiritual leader that is very moderate, grew up in Qom, in Iran, and I think that if Iraq falls to the Shiias it will be a catastrophe on the list, so it’s Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and those. Between Iran and Iraq, there is a common border. Between Iraq and Syria, there is a common border. Between Syria and Lebanon, there is a common border. And you would find it in the south about Gaza, about Hamas. So it’s very, very difficult to live with the idea that such kind of factionists are taking the lead. They would like to change the type of regime to become more dominant, to control the oil fields, and to become a major superpower that would change dramatically, but that is the balance of power in their world.

Slide show: Image 1 of 8

Silvan Shalom, Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development of Israel, right, before his interview with Warren Hoge, IPI Vice President and Director of External Relations, left

 

 
Photos by Elliot Moscowitz

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