The U.S. Can Best Restrain Hizballah by Pressuring Beirut

Sept. 15 2017

While Hizballah might now be too involved in Syria to desire conflict with Israel, writes Tony Badran, it is only a matter of time before the organization decides to turn its attention southward. And it will do so from a position of much greater strength, leading to disaster in Lebanon. The U.S. can, and should, try to prevent war:

[T]he war [in Syria] has significantly boosted Hizballah’s strategic position, because it has boosted Iran’s, and Hizballah is simply an extension of Iran. So despite its serious losses, Hizballah has managed to . . . establish territorial contiguity and strategic depth through western Syria. Hizballah and Iran have expanded their direct control over Syrian areas adjacent to the Lebanese border and the Damascus area with its airport. They [also] expanded their presence in southern Syria and are trying to move on eastern Syria to connect with Iran’s assets in Iraq. . . .

Iran and its proxies [now] need time to connect their Iraqi, Syrian, and Lebanese assets. Hizballah will then use that territory for, among other things, striking Israel, transforming its presence in Syria from a constraint to an enormous advantage. The clock is ticking for Israel. . . .

U.S. policy in the region needs an urgent adjustment to tackle the strategic mess of President Barack Obama’s policy of realignment with Iran. This means that priority should be given to undoing Iran’s position in Syria, and to preventing its deployment of strategic weapons and establishment of military infrastructure there.

Our current failed Lebanon policy should also be radically revised, as it has resulted in the consolidation of Hizballah’s control and in the growth of its military capability. The notion that we can coddle the Lebanese “state,” which Hizballah controls, and support the Lebanese military, which works directly with Hizballah, and then say we’re weakening Hizballah and rolling back Iranian influence simply doesn’t add up. Hizballah is using our investment in Lebanon and the Lebanese Armed Forces to its advantage. That should end.

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Read more at Cipher Brief

More about: Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Lebanon, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy

Palestinian Acceptance of Israel as the Jewish State Must Be a Prerequisite to Further Negotiations

Oct. 19 2018

In 1993, in the early days of the Oslo peace process, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) under Yasir Arafat accepted the “right of the state of Israel to exist in peace and security.” But neither it nor its heir, the Palestinians Authority, has ever accepted Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, or the right of the Jewish people to self-determination. Robert Barnidge explains why this distinction matters:

A Jewish state for the Jewish people, after all, was exactly what the [UN] General Assembly intended in November 1947 when it called for the partition of the Palestine Mandate into “the Arab state, the Jewish state, and the city of Jerusalem.”

Although the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state does not stand or fall on this resolution—in declaring the independence of Israel on the eve of the Sabbath on May 14, 1948, the Jewish People’s Council, [the precursor to the Israeli government], also stressed the Jewish people’s natural and historic rights—it reaffirms the legitimacy of Jewish national rights in (what was to become) the state of Israel.

The Palestinians have steadfastly refused to recognize Jewish self-determination. [Instead], the PLO [has been] playing a double game. . . . It is not simply that the PLO supported the General Assembly’s determination in 1975, rescinded in 1991, that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” It is that that the PLO leadership continues to speak of Jews as a religious community rather than a people, and of Zionism as a colonial usurper rather than the national liberation movement that it is.

The U.S. government, Barnidge concludes, “should demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace and security as a Jewish state” and refuse to “press Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians unless and until that happens.”

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Read more at BESA Center

More about: Israel & Zionism, Peace Process, PLO, US-Israel relations, Yasir Arafat