The Syria Cease-Fire Poses a Threat to Israel

July 18 2017

On July 9, a ceasefire—negotiated by the U.S., Russia, and Jordan during the G20 summit in Hamburg—took effect in southwestern Syria. It will, if it holds, create an area of quiet along the Israeli and Jordanian borders and, it is hoped, serve as a first step toward a broader de-escalation of the conflict. But Benjamin Netanyahu and those close to him have reportedly made clear that they are very troubled by the details, as David Makovsky explains:

Israeli security experts are skeptical that the cease-fire will hold—they have seen too many similar agreements fall apart in Syria. But this cease-fire touches more directly on Israeli interests than past such deals, as it [applies] not far from the Syrian-Israel border and adjacent to the Golan Heights, approximately two-thirds of which is controlled by Israel. . . . Israel’s most immediate concern is anything that brings Iran or Hizballah to the border of Israel’s tacit ally, Jordan, or close to [Syria’s] border with Israel on the Golan Heights. In principle, a cease-fire deal that would keep Iran, Hizballah, and Shiite forces away from these sensitive areas, [as this one ostensibly does], would be welcomed by Israel.

Yet for Israel, the potential gap between theory and practice looms large. Would the Russians actually enforce the cease-fire in southern Syria? Will Russian monitoring by satellites, drones, and military police occur, and will it be sufficient? Does Russia really intend to keep Iran and Hizballah in check? According to senior Israeli military officials, several hundred Hizballah officials have joined the First Syrian Corps in southern Syria, where they provide intelligence and plant roadside bombs against Syrian rebels—[the same rebels Russia has been fighting]. . . .

One early flashpoint [between Iran and Israel] could be a set of underground Iranian precision-guided missile-production facilities that are being constructed in Lebanon for Hizballah’s benefit. In an extraordinary statement, . . . Israel’s director of military intelligence, Herzie Halevy, announced the existence of these facilities, which would undoubtedly benefit from an Iranian land bridge through Syria.

Tehran, Makovsky notes, has been perfectly clear about its intention to build such a corridor to Lebanon via Iraq and Syria. While the apparent route wouldn’t go through southern Syria, a Hizballah presence in the Golan would give Iran additional areas from which it could launch these weapons.

Read more at Politico

More about: Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Russia, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy


Israel’s Economy Thrives While the Middle East Disintegrates

Jan. 19 2018

Now that the data have come in from 2017, it is clear that the Israeli economy had another successful year, expanding at a rate higher than that of any other advanced country. Israel’s per-capita GDP also grew, placing it above those of France and Japan. Daniel Kryger notes some of the implications regarding the Jewish state’s place in the Middle East:

The contrast between first-world Israel and the surrounding third-world Arab states is larger today than ever before. Israel’s GDP per capita is almost twenty times the GDP per capita of impoverished Egypt and five times larger than semi-developed Lebanon.

Like any human project, Israel is a never-ending work in progress and much work remains to integrate ḥaredi Jews and Israeli Arabs into Israel’s knowledge economy. Properly addressing Israel’s high costs of living requires more economic and legislative reforms and breaking up inefficient oligopolies that keep the prices artificially high. However, by any standard, the reborn Jewish state is a remarkable success story. . . .

Much has changed since OPEC launched its oil embargo against the West after the failed Arab aggression against Israel in October 1973. Before the collapse of the pro-Arab Soviet empire, China and India had no official ties with Israel and many Western and Japanese companies avoided doing business with Israel. Collapsing oil prices have dramatically eroded the power of oil-producing countries. It has become obvious that the future belongs to those who innovate, not those who happen to sit on oil. Israel has today strong commercial ties with China and a thriving partnership with India. Business delegations from Jamaica to Japan are eager to do business with Israel and benefit from Israel’s expertise. . . .

[For its part], the boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement may bully Jewish and pro-Israel students on Western campuses. However, in real life, BDS stands no chance of succeeding against Israel. The reason is simple: reborn Israel has . . . become too valuable a player in the global economy.

Read more at Mida

More about: BDS, Israel & Zionism, Israeli economy, Middle East, OPEC