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The Coming Confrontation between Israel and Iran

While the debate over the 2015 nuclear agreement, and the question of its continued certification by President Trump, still continues in the U.S., the Islamic Republic has been steadily expanding its presence in Syria and simultaneously advancing its ballistic-missile program. Israel, for its part, has attacked Iranian positions in Syria 100 times over the past five years. Absent American efforts to contain Tehran, warns Elliott Abrams, things are likely to get worse:

Now there are reports that Iran is planning to build a military airfield near Damascus, where the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps could build up its presence and operate. And that Iran and the Assad regime are negotiating over giving Iran its own naval pier in the port of Tartus. And that Iran may actually deploy a division of soldiers in Syria. . . .

[I]f Iran does indeed plan to establish a large and permanent military footprint in Syria, . . . Israel will have fateful decisions to make. Such an Iranian presence on the Mediterranean and on Israel’s border would change the military balance in the region and fundamentally change Israel’s security situation.

[U]nder the nuclear deal reached by Barack Obama, remember, limits on Iran’s nuclear program begin to end in only eight years; Iran may now perfect its ballistic-missile program; and there are no inspections of military sites where further nuclear weapons research may be under way. As Senator Tom Cotton said recently, “If Iran doesn’t have a covert nuclear program today, it would be [for] the first time in a generation.” Israel could be a decade away from a situation where Iran has nuclear weapons and bases in Syria—and could logically therefore even place nuclear weapons in Syria, just miles from Israel’s border.

As such a situation would be intolerable for Israel, a larger military conflict between it and Iran is almost inevitable—unless the U.S. begins to constrain Tehran’s regional ambitions.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy

 

Europe Has a Chance to Change Its Attitude toward Israel

Dec. 15 2017

In Europe earlier this week, Benjamin Netanyahu met with several officials and heads of state. Ahead of his visit, the former Italian parliamentarian Fiamma Nirenstein addressed a letter to these European leaders, urging them to reevaluate their attitudes toward the status of Jerusalem and the West Bank, the Israel-Palestinian peace process, the gravity of European anti-Semitism, and the threat posed by Hamas and Hizballah. In it she writes:

For years, the relationship between Europe and Israel has been strained. Europe tends to criticize Israel for simply defending itself against the continual threats and terrorist attacks it faces on all its borders and inside its cities. Europe too often disregards not only Israel’s most evident attempts to bring about peace—such as its disengagement from Gaza—but also chides it for its cautiousness when considering what solutions are risky and which will truly ensure the security of its citizens.

The EU has never recognized the dangers posed by Hamas and Hizballah, as well as by many other jihadist groups—some of which are backed by [the allegedly moderate] Fatah. The EU constantly blames Israel in its decisions, resolutions, papers and “non-papers,” letters, and appeals. Some of Europe’s most important figures insist that sanctions against the “territories” are necessary—a political stance that will certainly not bring about a solution to this conflict that . . . the Israelis would sincerely like to resolve. Israel has repeated many times that it is ready for direct negotiation without preconditions with the Palestinians. No answer has been received.

The European Union continues to put forth unrealistic solutions to the Israel-Palestinian issue, and the results have only aggravated the situation further. Such was the case in 2015 when it sanctioned Israeli companies and businesses in the territories over the Green Line, forcing them to close industrial centers that provided work to hundreds of Palestinians. The Europeans promoted the harmful idea that delegitimizing Israel can be accomplished through international pressure and that negotiations and direct talks with Israel can be avoided. . . .

[Meanwhile], Iran’s imperialist designs now touch all of Israel’s borders and put the entire world at risk of a disastrous war while Iran’s closest proxy, Hizballah, armed with hundreds of thousands of missiles, proudly presents the most explicit terrorist threat. Europe must confront these risks for the benefit of its citizens, first by placing Hizballah on its list of terrorist organizations and secondly, by reconsidering and revising its relationship with Iran.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Europe and Israel, European Union, Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy