Having served as Israel’s ambassador to the UN from 1997 to 1999 and, among numerous other positions, as director general of the Israeli foreign ministry in 2015 and 2016, Dore Gold has had a front-row seat at many of his country’s major foreign-policy decisions. These include include its successful diplomatic outreach to Africa, Asia, and, most surprising and most gratifying, the Arab world. In conversation with Walter Russell Mead, he discusses what made the last-named initiative possible and speaks as well about the Iranian threat, the threats in the U.S. to continued bipartisan support for the Jewish state, relations between Israel and the Jewish diaspora, and how Israeli diplomacy can embody Jewish values. (Video, 52 minutes.)
An Insider’s View of Israel’s Diplomatic Revolution
Iran Is Back on Israel’s Doorstep
On Monday, the IDF shelled Iranian-linked targets—most likely held by Hizballah—in the Quneitra province, which lies in the Syrian part of the Golan Heights. There can thus be little doubt that the Islamic Republic has positioned its proxies in deadly proximity to Israel’s borders. Yossi Yehoshua comments:
Hizballah is trying to entrench itself in Syria now that Bashar al-Assad has reclaimed the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, precisely as it did in 2014 and 2015, [before Syrian rebels retook the area]. This was when one of the terror organization’s more prominent members, Jihad Mughniyeh, was appointed by Hizballah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to be in charge of the Golan Heights area and of planning terror attacks against Israeli civilians. Mughniyeh was killed in a 2015 airstrike attributed to Israel. . . .
In addition, an increase in the number of incidents along the Syrian border was noted over the past two months, with the Israeli strikes in Syria . . . meant to signal to the enemy that it is best not cross any red lines. This is similar to the message Jerusalem conveyed to Iran when it [previously] attempted to entrench itself in [this part of] Syria and was pushed out of there after a series of Israeli airstrikes.
Unlike the situation of four years ago, Iran now has a real presence along the Syrian border, while Hizballah is working to resume its confrontations with Israel. And since the organization is up to its neck in domestic problems and thus cannot allow itself to face Israel on the Lebanese front, it finds Syria to be a more comfortable staging ground from which to take on the Jewish state.