​David Levy at IDC Herzliya: "it is time to initiate, not to hold on"


Levy, former deputy prime minister and foreign minister spoke last night in a special event at IDC Herzliya marking 40 years to the visit of president Sadat in Israel. Hazem Khairat, ambassador of Egypt to Israel and Leslie Tsou, United States deputy chief of mission to Israel, were also keynote speakers. The event was hosted by the Institute for Policy and Strategy at IDC Herzliya, directed by Maj. Gen (Ret.) Amos Gilead.

A large crowd gathered at IDC Herzliya last week to the event hosted by the institute for policy and strategy at IDC Herzliya in honor of the historic event. Maj. Gen (Ret.) Gilead thanked the keynote speakers and expressed his deep condolences to the Egyptian people following the horrific terror attack in Sinai. "I had the honor to meet the Egyptian president when he was still in the army and I know nothing can break him. He will be the one breaking the terrorists".

"The strategic value of Israel-Egypt relations is incredible", said Gilead, "Egypt was our worst enemy and became an important partner. Sadat's and Begin's exceptional courage led to a reality of relations and coordination that I never thought we will reach". We always look at the dark side of the equation, Iran and Hezbollah, but there also brighter sides such as the relations with Egypt, but we still need to improve the normalization".

Also Leslie Tsou, United States deputy chief of mission to Israel, who represented the American ambassador at the event, expressed condolences to the Egyptian people. "Today, just like back then, peace in the Middle East continues to be a vital effort of the United States and we are working hard to achieve it. I wish the peace between Israel and Egypt will continue forever and will prove that peace is achievable even when seems hopeless".

Hazem Khairat, ambassador of Egypt to Israel, addressed Dalia Rabin who was in the audience and said that he wishes to express "deep appreciation to your father, who just like Sadat paid for peace with his life". Khairat called for immense efforts to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians and said that such an agreement is the base for any regional agreement. "The wisdom and courage of Sadat and Begin are an inspiration that should be minded by politicians all over the Middle East".

"We are facing a once in a lifetime chance for peace", he added, "and it is not a task for only leaders in Israel and in Egypt, but an effort of the entire region, it is a commitment that should be in the heart of millions".

David Levi, welcomed by loud applause from the audience, began with humor and said that "I am not used to such compliments but even retroactively, it is always good to hear, especially in such a distinguished forum…" Levi condemned the attack in Sinai, expressed his condolences in front of the Egyptian ambassador, shared his memories of Begin and the peace process and concluded: "I had great relations with the Egyptian administration in the three governments I served as foreign minister and as someone who contributed to the relations between the states, I can say that we are in the midst of an historic junction that obligates leaders who see the region, the future and the mutual and take brave and necessary steps, such as Sadat and Begin in order to build a solid dam that will survive any tsunami threating our future and stability.

"It is time to initiate and not to stay put. The dangers will not withstand a policy of non-doing. In order to describe dangers you do not need to be a statesman, it is enough to be a reporter – with no intention degrade reporters of course… to be a statesman means striving to find how to bring the region to safe haven despite of the dangers. That is what we need today".

Photo by: Adi Cohen-Zedek

Maj. Gen. (Res.) Gilead concluded and said, "I do not want normalization that is not built on real foundations. ISIS is sinking and the Persian Empire is rising, Hezbollah is stronger than Lebanon, Iraq is under Shiite control, Iran is growing. I am not in favor of going to war if there is a choice, like the first Lebanon war. Egyptian President el-Sisi is a religious man from a religious family who was appointed Minister of Defense. The Muslim Brotherhood promoted him up and trusted him to bring the Muslim Brotherhood into the army. The Egyptian army is a huge economic and social body. When he entered the army, a coalition was formed between Turkey and Egypt. We are talking about an axis that we would not have been able to withstand. The Muslim Brotherhood wanted to establish a caliphate and Hamas is their extension.

El-Sisi came to power and decided to save Egypt for patriotic reasons. He did so because of considerations of saving the state, and is therefore endangering his life to this day. Why did the Americans call his ascension to power a coup? To Obama. the idealist, el-Sisi is a heretic. In the Middle East, I am against democracy, except for Israel, because what comes out of it is dark, and the Muslim Brotherhood believes in a one-time democracy.

All the royal houses in the Middle East have survived the Arab Spring, it should not be taken for granted, and there is deep recognition that Israel is of immense value, and we are an undeclared part of the Sunni Arab world.

My strategic message is that we face an unprecedented threat. This threat is only increasing, but there are miracles - we must maintain relations with the Arab world and prevent revolutions. There are shadows - but also lights".