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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

Why Israeli Arabs Should Drop Their Political Parties

Sept. 20 2017

Even as Israel’s Arab citizens enjoy rights, freedoms, and economic opportunities unrivaled in the Arab world, their political leadership is more intent on undermining the Jewish state than on serving their actual interests. Moshe Arens, a former Israeli defense minister, comments. (Free registration may be required.)

[T]he Knesset members of the [Arab] Joint List have nothing but criticism for Israel and praise for its enemies, be they Iran, President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Hizballah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Gaza Strip, or Palestinian terrorists. . . . Although spanning the ideological spectrum from Communism (aside from the North Koreans, the only Communists still around), the Muslim Brotherhood (called the Islamic Movement in Israel), and Baathists (the Balad party), they are united in their hatred of Israel. Naturally, they do not call for Arab integration into Israeli society.

Those who oppose the polygamy rampant in the Arab community oppose Israeli measures to curb it. Those who are against the abuse of women and so-called honor killings think these are “local problems” that should be handled by the Arabs themselves. Nor do they want the Israel police to handle the crime running wild in Israel’s Arab towns. Keep Israel out of your lives, is their common motto. They oppose young Arabs volunteering for either military or civilian national service. . . .

Within Israel’s Arab community there is a struggle between those who insist on rejecting everything Israel stands for while supporting its enemies and those who want to integrate into Israeli society and take advantage of the opportunities it offers. . . . Can Israel’s Arabs become a beacon of democracy and modernity for the Arab world, or will they provide proof that Arabs are not yet prepared to enter the 21st century? . . .

[E]ach year, growing numbers of young Arabs volunteer for national service and join the ranks of Israel’s military and police. At the moment, the only way this trend can express itself politically is for these individuals to drop their support for the Joint List in favor of Israel’s existing political parties, and for these parties to welcome Arabs into their ranks.

Read more at Haaretz

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Arabs, Israeli politics, Joint List