The U.S. Embassy Belongs in Israel’s Capital, and Always Has

March 7 2018

In 1995, Douglas Feith helped Senators Bob Dole and Jon Kyl draft a bill requiring the federal government to relocate its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Twenty-three years after the bill was passed—with overwhelming bipartisan majorities—the Trump administration has put plans in place to comply with the law. The arguments made by Feith in 1995 remain no less pertinent today:

Inasmuch as the essence of the Arab-Israeli conflict is legitimacy, the essence of the legitimacy issue is Israel’s right to sovereignty in Jerusalem. If Israelis do not have the right to sovereignty there, they can hardly justify sovereignty anywhere.

Jerusalem has been central to Jewish nationhood for 3,000 years. The Jews’ national movement, after all, is Zionism, Zion being Jerusalem. The Arabs understand this, too, which is why the importance of Jerusalem in Arab politics, diplomacy, philosophy, and literature increased as the struggle against Zionism intensified.

By relocating our embassy to Jerusalem, we would end our anomalous policy of refusing to recognize Israel’s sovereignty in its own capital. We would proclaim that Israel’s legitimacy in Zion is not an open question for us. This would signal that we expect all parties to the conflict—not just Israel—to pursue peace on the basis of realism.

In the ongoing Arab-Israeli negotiations, moving the embassy would not prejudice any issue that is actually open. . . . Across the political spectrum in Israel, [therefore], there is a profound commitment to retaining Jerusalem forever as the undivided capital. The cause of peace will be served by whatever helps persuade Yasir Arafat that he will not get American support or Israeli consent to divide Jerusalem and establish part of it as the capital of a new Arab state.

The necessary adjustment in expectations on the Arab side would be difficult and even painful. Passionate cries—and worse—would ensue, but in the end the process would be constructive.

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Read more at New York Times

More about: Congress, Israel & Zionism, Jerusalem, Peace Process, US-Israel relations

 

Syria’s Downing of a Russian Plane Put Israel in the Crosshairs

Sept. 21 2018

On Monday, Israeli jets fired missiles at an Iranian munitions storehouse in the northwestern Syrian city of Latakia. Shortly thereafter, Syrian personnel shot down a Russian surveillance plane with surface-to-air missiles, in what seems to be a botched and highly incompetent response to the Israeli attack. Moscow first responded by blaming Jerusalem for the incident, but President Putin then offered more conciliatory statements. Yesterday, Russian diplomats again stated that Israel was at fault. Yoav Limor comments:

What was unusual [about the Israeli] strike was the location: Latakia [is] close to Russian forces, in an area where the IDF hasn’t been active for some time. The strike itself was routine; the IDF notified the Russian military about it in advance, the missiles were fired remotely, the Israeli F-16s returned to base unharmed, and as usual, Syrian antiaircraft missiles were fired indiscriminately in every direction, long after the strike itself was over. . . .

Theoretically, this is a matter between Russia and Syria. Russia supplied Syria with the SA-5 [missile] batteries that wound up shooting down its plane, and now it must demand explanations from Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. That won’t happen; Russia was quick to blame Israel for knocking over the first domino, and as usual, sent conflicting messages that make it hard to parse its future strategy. . . .

From now on, Russia will [almost certainly] demand a higher level of coordination with Israel and limits on the areas in which Israel can attack, and possibly a commitment to refrain from certain actions. Syria, Iran, and Hizballah will try to drag Russia into “handling” Israel and keeping it from continuing to carry out strikes in the region. Israel . . . will blame Iran, Hizballah, and Syria for the incident, and say they are responsible for the mess.

But Israel needs to take rapid action to minimize damage. It is in Israel’s strategic interest to keep up its offensive actions to the north, mainly in Syria. If that action is curtailed, Israel’s national security will be compromised. . . . No one in Israel, and certainly not in the IDF or the Israel Air Force, wants Russia—which until now hasn’t cared much about Israel’s actions—to turn hostile, and Israel needs to do everything to prevent that from happening. Even if that means limiting its actions for the time being. . . . Still, make no mistake: Russia is angry and has to explain its actions to its people. Israel will need to walk a thin line between protecting its own security interests and avoiding a very unwanted clash with Russia.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

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