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Israel’s Latest (Possible) Strike in Syria Shows That It Won’t be Cowed by Russia

Early Saturday morning, it appears that Israeli jets destroyed an Iranian base located in Syria. Jerusalem, as a rule, does not take credit for such strikes, but to Ron Ben-Yishai there is little reason to doubt its responsibility. He explains the logic behind the attack:

Israel will not allow an Iranian military presence of any kind in Syria. The fact the Russians and the Iranians ignored that message in talks that Vladimir Putin held with the leaders of Iran and Turkey was likely what prompted Israel to reinforce its message [with action]. . . .

[The Iranian] base, which is near the town of al-Kiswah, fifteen kilometers southwest of Damascus, was supposed to house some 500 militia fighters operating in Syria on Iranian orders. The base is some 50 kilometers from the Golan Heights, and while it’s not close enough to pose a direct threat to Israel, it certainly constitutes an important and clear component in Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria. . . . [W]hile the al-Kiswah base has yet to be populated, it is safe to assume there was already Iranian “representation” there at the time of the strike—a few Iranian military and Revolutionary Guards personnel, no more. It was apparently enough for Israel.

The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, recently said that Iranian (and Russian) military presence in Syria was “legitimate,” because the Assad regime, which is the legal government, invited them. But Jerusalem is not bound by Moscow’s declarations. For Israel, as recent events and declarations make clear, a permanent Iranian military presence in Syria is a red line that will not be accepted, even in its initial stages. The obvious conclusion is that it’s better to handle a problem when it is still small than to bomb this facility when it is fully manned, causing many casualties.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Russia, Syrian civil war

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