Economic Improvement Won’t Stop Palestinian Terror

July 11 2018

While the U.S. has not yet released its peace proposal for Israel and the Palestinians, Jared Kushner—who is leading the effort—and other officials have stated that it involves major efforts to bring prosperity to the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza. Yossi Kuperwasser warns that, even if effective, such efforts will not guarantee peace:

Palestinians [who] carry out terror attacks [do so] with ideological motives, and most of them see terror as a justified and effective way . . . to advance their objectives in the conflict with Israel. The terrorists and their families are eligible for significant economic benefits in the form of the salaries that the Palestinian Authority (PA) pays them. [Moreover], the commitment of the Palestinian leadership to the struggle against Zionism is greater than the consideration of economic gain, even though the PA is aware that it needs to provide an answer for the Palestinians’ economic needs. As proof, the second intifada erupted in 2000 during a period of impressive growth.

Deciding on the appropriate scope of terrorism reflects the perception of different elements within the Palestinian political system regarding the costs and benefits of various terror activities at any point in time. . . . Economics [may be] a restraining factor, especially in the circumstances of a severe crisis. For example, the economic crisis in 2005 is thought to be one of the reasons that brought the Palestinians to a decision to end the second intifada. [T]he chance that economic temptations will lead to a change in Palestinian national goals is very slight so long as the Palestinian system is led by political movements that do not give priority to the welfare of its citizens. . . .

The . . . U.S. administration criticizes the PA and Hamas for “not acting according to the needs of the Palestinian people.” This reaction indicates a lack of understanding of [their] priorities and superimposes upon them a Western order of priorities, which sees the pursuit of happiness and prosperity as all people’s [primary] goal. . . .

[Nonetheless, it’s necessary not to] diminish the importance of investing in the advancement of the Palestinian economy and economic cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians. These are based on ethical motives—from the desire to bring economic prosperity to Israel’s neighbors to advancing familiarity between both peoples.

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Donald Trump, Israel & Zionism, Jared Kushner, Palestinian terror, Palestinians, Peace Process

Russia Has No Interest in Curbing Iran in Syria—Despite Putin’s Assurances

July 20 2018

In his joint press conference on Monday with Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump stated that in their meeting he had brought up U.S. concerns about the Islamic Republic’s malign influence in the Middle East, and that he’d “made clear [to Putin] that the United States will not allow Iran to benefit from [America’s] successful campaign against Islamic State.” It does not appear, however, that any concrete agreements were reached. To Alexandra Gutowski and Caleb Weiss, it’s clear that agreements will do little, since Putin can’t be trusted to keep his word:

In late June, Russia began to unleash hundreds of airstrikes on [the southwestern Syrian province of] Deraa, in flagrant violation of the U.S.-Russian cease-fire agreement that Trump and Putin personally endorsed last November. While Russia struck from the air, forces nominally under the control of Damascus conducted a major ground offensive.

Closer examination shows that the dividing line between Assad’s military and Iranian-aligned forces has become ever blurrier. Before the offensive began, Lebanese Hizballah and other Iranian-backed militias staged apparent withdrawals from the region, only to return after donning [Assad]-regime uniforms and hiding their banners and insignia. Tehran is also directly involved. On July 2, a senior commander of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) died in Deir al-Adas, a village in northern Deraa province along the strategic M5 highway. Persian sources describe him as the commander for the province. [In fact], forces nominally under the control of Damascus are permeated with troops that are at least as close to Tehran. . . .

It’s also becoming clear that Russian aircraft are supporting the efforts of Iranian-backed units nominally under the control of Damascus. . . . Russia has also now deployed military police to hold terrain captured by Iranian-aligned forces, demonstrating a level of coordination as well as Russia’s unwillingness to use its forces for more dangerous offensive operations. These terrain-holding forces free up Iran-aligned actors to continue undertaking offensives toward the Golan.

Reported meetings between militia commanders and Russian officers suggest these operations are coordinated. But even without formal coordination, Russian air cover and Iranian ground offensives are mutually dependent and reinforcing. Iran can’t be in the sky, and Russia refuses to put significant forces on the ground, lest too many return home in body bags. Thus, Putin requires Iran’s forces on the ground to secure his ambitions in Syria.

President Trump should remain highly skeptical of Putin’s interest in serving as a partner in Syria and his ability to do so. The humanitarian relief Putin proposes [for postwar reconstruction] is designed to fortify the regime, not to rehabilitate children brutalized by Assad. Putin also has limited interest in curtailing Iran’s deployment. Russia itself admits that Iran’s withdrawal is “absolutely unrealistic.” Trump should not concede American positions, notably the strategic base at Tanf which blocks Iran’s path to the Mediterranean, for empty promises from Russia. Putin can afford to lie to America, but he can’t afford to control Syria without Iranian support.

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More about: Donald Trump, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy, Vladimir Putin