Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon gave a briefing to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Wednesday, emphasizing Iran as Israel's top security priority.
"Looking at the all the challenges before us, there is no doubt Iran is the single greatest challenge," Ya'alon said.
"Given the diplomatic channel that has opened following elections there, both the prime minister and I have expressed publicly our concern that some people will be seduced by the regime's charm offensive and relent. This is a regime that for the last 20 years we have witnessed how well it knows how to lie, cheat and mislead the West.
"Our position is very clear. What we see now in Iran, both the political change and the change in its willingness to conduct negotiations with the United States stem from the effective economic pressure brought to bear on the regime. This led Iran's supreme leader to the conclusion that in order to survive he must speak with the Americans. He has been forced to make several concessions on Iran's nuclear program, but Iran's intention is not to give up its nuclear option. They are working toward retaining an independent enrichment capability. This is not acceptable to us, because this is a way to mislead and cheat as they have done in the past.
"Therefore our position is that in order to ease the sanctions it is necessary to demand from the Iranians to give up their independent enrichment capability, the plutonium capability that they developed recently and to give up the material they have accumulated. If they need a civilian nuclear program to generate energy, despite all the oil and gas they have, then the West will provide for their energy needs. If it is for energy purposes, then the West will provide the materials they need.
"We hope that the diplomatic channel, along with sanctions, will [stop Iran's nuclear program]. But ultimately we need to be prepared to defend ourselves, by ourselves, as we always say.
"The other issue we are following is Syria. Syria has agreed, under international pressure, to give up its chemical weapons. So far, the regime is adhering to its commitments. The test is the final result. Will it try to hide or retain some of its chemical weapons? Time will tell. We continue to follow events and to adhere to our red lines regarding Syria. We will not allow the transfer of high-quality weapons from Syria to hostile forces, particularly Hezbollah. We will not allow the transfer of chemical weapons, which there has been no attempt so far to transfer. And certainly we will not tolerate any disruption of our sovereignty in the Golan Heights. If this happens, as it did recently, we shoot back and destroy the source of fire. In the most recent case it was a Syrian mortar.
"The Syrian civil war continues. There is a slight drop in intensity but it is a drop from 1,000 dead per week to 600 dead. I believe that in the near future there will be no political solution in Syria. One of the noticeable phenomena is the spreading influence of the global jihad movement. They have spread to Lebanon, including the firing of a rocket by a global jihad group at Israel two months ago. There is also the war in the Sinai at present against such groups.
"Regarding the Palestinian arena, I will say in brief that there is a wave of terror attacks, even if this is not the start of a third intifada. But this wave may originate in personal or criminal motives that become nationalistic. A robbery can easily turn into the murder of a Jew, or to steal a little girl's bicycle by stabbing her with a knife. This is unacceptable.
"Some of the attacks are definitely nationalistically motivated. Like the bulldozer attack or the attempt to kidnap a soldier and ultimately his murder, or shooting in Hebron. All these incidents together definitely constitute a wave. But we don't see any momentum behind it or any group behind it. But definitely at its basis is incitement in the Palestinian Authority which we have been pointing out for a while. Unfortunately the incitement has not changed despite the negotiations.
"In addition, there is a failure to condemn and there is public endorsement of these attacks. We view all of this with concern and are prepared for an escalation even though this is not our forecast. But we are working to get to the bottom of each one of these incidents. For instance, yesterday morning, we found the last wanted suspect from the bus attack in Tel Aviv during the Pillar of Defense operation in November 2012. We finally tracked him down. He opened fire, and was killed in the confrontation with our soldiers. This will continue to be our way: to act with determination against terror."