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


The EU Violates International Law, Steals Palestinian Land, and Then Demands Compensation from Israel

Nov. 17 2017

Last month, the eight European countries that make up the West Bank Protection Consortium sent a formal letter demanding €30,000 in compensation for two classrooms with solar panels that Israel dismantled in August. The letter, as Ruthie Blum explains, ignores the fact that the structures, located in part of the West Bank called Area C, were built in violation of international law:

[The 1995 agreement known as] Oslo II, which created the Palestinian Authority (PA), divides the West Bank into three geographical sections—Areas A, B, and C—and specifies which government controls each. Area C is under the military and civil jurisdiction of Israel alone. . . . Yet, for years, there has been non-stop building in Area C, . . . in a transparent effort to populate Area C with Palestinians. . . .

[The] Middle East analyst Bassam Tawil [has] noted massive “behind-the-scenes” Palestinian construction, the goal of which is “to create irreversible facts on the ground” and completely encircle Jerusalem. He points out that while Israel is condemned for any and every attempt to build housing in the West Bank and Jerusalem [which it never does in Area A, assigned by Oslo to the sole jurisdiction of the Ramallah], the Palestinian Authority has been undertaking, with impunity, a “colossal” construction project that is “illegal in every respect.” . . .

On a recent tour of the area, [another] Arab affairs expert, Khaled Abu Toameh, explained that this ongoing construction, funded mainly by the EU and Qatar, is made possible through the “confiscation” of privately owned tracts of Palestinian land by unlicensed contractors whose interest is solely financial. . . All they want, he said, is to line their pockets at the expense of helpless landowners, who are told that they must sacrifice their property to help the Palestinian Authority populate the area for political gain against Israel. . . .

It takes particular gall for European Union representatives to express “humanitarian” outrage at Israel for razing illegal structures in the West Bank—while the EU is in league with Palestinian criminals who have been brazenly stealing Arab-owned land.

Read more at Gatestone

More about: Europe and Israel, European Union, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian Authority, West Bank