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Sixty-seven years have passed since the founding of the State of Israel, 67 years of continuous security and diplomatic challenges stemming from a vehement opposition to our very existence by our neighboring Arab states and their supporting organizations. In the past, the flagbearers of this opposition fueled the conflict with nationalistic pan-Arab ideology (Nasserism, Ba'athism, pan-Arabism). Their use of conventional armed forces to attack Israel was defeated time and again, as the Israel Defense Forces increasingly gained a substantial military advantage based on advanced technology and professional abilities. This, in turn, led the Arabs to focus on achieving non-conventional capabilities — challenging Israel with rockets, missiles, guerrilla warfare and terror.

As the star of pan-Arabism/Arab nationalism faded, radical Islam (both Shia and Sunni) rose in its place. This new ideology is driving the current wave of terror that aims to harm Israel and its citizens, in various ways — within Israel, along its borders and across seas. This wave of terror, be it sponsored by Palestinian Islamic organizations like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad or sponsored by regional/international radical forces like Hezbollah and Global Jihad (Daesh and al-Qaida), has turned Israel into the front line of the free world in the battle against this murderous terror that aims to kill as many infidels as possible — which is how they view citizens of democratic, free countries.

The battle against radical Islamic terror will be the greatest challenge facing the family of nations, under the leadership of the United States, in the coming years. Israel, the sole democracy in the Middle East, is an inseparable part of this family of nations and will push for greater cooperation, in both intelligence and operational capacities, among the free world's countries. If the terrorists and their operators will not be stopped at their points of origin, where they are indoctrinated with murderous ideology and receive vigorous training, they will reach the capitals of every nation in the free world where they will brutally murder citizens, exporting their reign of terror. This is what happened in Paris and what can easily happen in other global cities.

The ability of the free world's intelligence organizations to effectively cooperate is crucial to the success of the war on terror. The ability of every nation to contribute intelligence information is a major factor in foiling terror attacks and destroying the terror infrastructure. Israel will continue to support these efforts to the best of its abilities and will continue to share all intelligence information it has in this regard, as well as its significant operational experience.

This is a war over our core values and our way of life. This is a war of cultures. On one side is a culture that values death and destruction and kills hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, including women and children — a culture that conducts cruel suppression of ancient Christian communities, stages public hangings of homosexuals and holds a complete disregard for women's basic rights. On the opposing side, there is our culture — that of the Western world that places highest value on freedom and equality for all, regardless of religion, race, gender or sexual orientation.

The driving force behind this opposing, evil culture is Iran. To clarify, the nuclear agreement signed with Iran will not reduce the threat of this regime on the entire free world. On the contrary. The merciless Iranian regime, who typifies Israel as the "Little Satan" and threatens to obliterate it from the map, holds equal discontent toward the United States, termed the "Great Satan." As Iran gains power in the post-agreement era, Israel is faced with an additional substantial challenge.

Iran is the chief instigator of terror and instability in the Middle East, employing Hezbollah, the Quds Forces of the Revolutionary Guards and its support of a variety of terror organizations to this end. However, one would be mistaken to think this is the extent of Iran's evil aspirations and activities. Currently, Iran operates dormant and active terror cells throughout Europe, the Americas, Africa and the Far East. Its proxies are busy planning vicious attacks, collecting intelligence on Western targets and stockpiling arms in various hideaways scattered throughout global capitals.

The agreement with Iran and the lifting of sanctions enable Iran to continue to sponsor, train, arm and operate terror organizations in the Middle East and across the world. Thanks to this agreement, Iran is able to do so without the heavy weight of the sanctions — while it continues to aspire toward nuclear capabilities, even if they remain 10 to 15 years in the future. This is a huge danger to the Western world and an immediate challenge during the coming year. It is essential to say, in the most clear-cut manner, that Iran is completely and utterly on the dark side. Not only that, but they sit at the helm of the forces of evil. We should not be fooled by their deceitful charm offensive. Iran remains a huge threat on the Western world and the security of its citizens.

The coming year, especially, and the years to follow, are crucial for Israel and the Israel Defense Forces. We continue to build and strengthen our defenses while keeping an open eye on the dramatic changes transpiring throughout the Middle East. The IDF in the coming years will be a very different force, compared with that of 20, 30 and 40 years ago. It will be, and I may say it already is, a force that combines tremendous firepower coupled with the ability to mobilize and operate elite forces on land, in the air, at sea, and even underground. The IDF also employs super advanced war machinery that can suddenly strike at any point in the Middle East, supported by highly sophisticated cyber and intelligence capabilities.

Our closest ally and greatest friend, the United States, is providing essential support — both quantitatively and qualitatively — to this reshaping of the IDF. The unusually close relationship between the defense establishments, militaries and intelligence corps of the United States and Israel serve as the cornerstone of our national security.

Ya'alon is Israel's defense minister.

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