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Why Keeping Jerusalem United Required a New Law

On Tuesday, the Knesset passed a bill emending the Basic Law—Israel’s de-facto constitution—so that a two-thirds majority will be needed to approve any measure that would cede any part of Jerusalem to another state or entity. Nadav Shragai explains the bill’s logic:

This is a practical law, not a theoretical one. The Knesset has now placed a serious obstacle in the path of any government that tries to hand over such Jerusalem neighborhoods [as] Issawiya, Jabel Mukhabar, or Tzur Baher to the Palestinians. These neighborhoods and others like them lie flush against Jewish neighborhoods such as French Hill or Mount Scopus in the north, or Armon Hanatziv or Kibbutz Ramat Rachel in the southeast. On Tuesday, the Knesset reduced the likelihood that the Palestinians will ever resume shooting attacks from the seam, [that is, the area between the borders of Jerusalem and the barrier that cordons off much of the West Bank], like the ones in [the Jerusalem neighborhood of] Gilo that occurred after the adjacent town of Beit Jala was handed over to the Palestinians.

The new legislation is also vital to prevent any possibility that, after any division of the city, the Palestinians would interfere with freedom of access to, and worship at, the Jewish holy sites in the city. They have done so in the distant and recent past with the Western Wall, the Temple Mount, the Mount of Olives, and Rachel’s Tomb.

The law will also preserve the joint day-to-day life shared by Jews and Arabs in the capital. This is something else that exists in Jerusalem, along with the ethno-religious conflict, and to a much greater degree than most of the public is aware of. Dividing the city would definitely hurt that co-existence.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israel's Basic Law, Jerusalem, Knesset

How the U.S. Can Strike at Iran without Risking War

In his testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Michael Doran urged the U.S. to pursue a policy of rolling back Iranian influence in the Middle East, and explained how this can be accomplished. (Video of the testimony, along with the full text, are available at the link below.)

The United States . . . has indirect ways of striking at Iran—ways that do not risk drawing the United States into a quagmire. The easiest of these is to support allies who are already in the fight. . . . In contrast to the United States, Israel is already engaged in military operations whose stated goal is to drive Iran from Syria. We should therefore ask ourselves what actions we might take to strengthen Israel’s hand. Militarily, these might include, on the passive end of the spectrum, positioning our forces so as to deter Russian counterattacks against Israel. On the [more active] end, they might include arming and training Syrian forces to engage in operations against Iran and its proxies—much as we armed the mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Diplomatically, the United States might associate itself much more directly with the red lines that Israel has announced regarding the Iranian presence in Syria. Israel has, for example, called for pushing Iran and its proxies away from its border on the Golan Heights. Who is prepared to say that Washington has done all in its power to demonstrate to Moscow that it fully supports this goal? In short, a policy of greater coordination with Jerusalem is both possible and desirable.

In Yemen, too, greater coordination with Saudi Arabia is worth pursuing. . . . In Lebanon and Iraq, conditions will not support a hard rollback policy. In these countries the goal should be to shift the policy away from a modus vivendi [with Iran] and in the direction of containment. In Iraq, the priority, of course, is the dismantling of the militia infrastructure that the Iranians have built. In Lebanon, [it should be] using sanctions to force the Lebanese banking sector to choose between doing business with Hizballah and Iran and doing business with the United States and its financial institutions. . . .

Iran will not take a coercive American policy sitting down. It will strike back—and it will do so cleverly. . . . It almost goes without saying that the United States should begin working with its allies now to develop contingency plans for countering the tactics [Tehran is likely to use]. I say “almost” because I know from experience in the White House that contingency planning is something we extol much more than we conduct. As obvious as these tactics [against us] are, they have often taken Western decision makers by surprise, and they have proved effective in wearing down Western resolve.

Read more at Hudson

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen