Israel Should Tell the International Observer Force to Leave Hebron

Jan. 11 2019

After Baruch Goldstein gunned down 29 Palestinian worshippers in 1994, Israel was pressured to accept the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), a peacekeeping force whose presence has proved anything but temporary. Every three months, Jerusalem must renew its permission for the force to remain. Eugene Kontorovich argues that it’s time to send the observers home:

The anti-Israel bias of TIPH is built into its . . . mission of “promoting by [its] presence a feeling of security” for Palestinians in Hebron. Protecting Jews from constant terrorist attacks is not part of its job description. Members of the organization even veered from this narrow definition by attacking Jews in Hebron in the last year. The attackers were later pulled out of the country by the TIPH leadership without ever having to stand trial. TIPH has cooperated with radical [Israeli] groups like Breaking the Silence and leaked confidential reports to the press. The organization’s reports are full of anti-Israel claims that have no connection to its stated task. . . .

Unlike comparable UN forces, TIPH is not a separate international organization but an operational framework for security officials from five countries: Norway, Sweden, Turkey, Italy, and Switzerland. These countries are themselves . . . often hostile to Israel. Turkey, the most blatant example, treats Israel as an enemy state. Ankara supports Hamas and has dispatched anti-Israel flotillas to Gaza, promotes anti-Semitic defamation, and works to undermine Israel’s sovereignty in Jerusalem. Despite all this, Israel grants official immunity to Turkish representatives who photograph and video record Israeli soldiers and citizens. . . .

The continuation of TIPH’s mandate sends these countries the message that no matter how much they harm Israel, Israel will turn the other cheek. TIPH symbolizes the failure of Israeli foreign policy. Faced with a series of constant and ongoing campaigns against it, . . . Israel always reacts out of diplomatic anxiety; . . . as a result, the status quo continues unabated at the country’s expense.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Baruch Goldstein, Breaking the Silence, Europe and Israel, Hebron, Israel & Zionism, Turkey

 

The Syrian Civil War May Be Coming to an End, but Three New Wars Are Rising There

March 26 2019

With both Islamic State and the major insurgent forces largely defeated, Syria now stands divided into three parts. Some 60 percent of the country, in the west and south, is in the hands of Bashar al-Assad and his allies. Another 30 percent, in the northeast, is in the hands of the mostly Kurdish, and American-backed, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The final 10 percent, in the northwest, is held by Sunni jihadists, some affiliated with al-Qaeda, under Turkish protection. But, writes Jonathan Spyer, the situation is far from stable. Kurds, likely linked to the SDF, have been waging an insurgency in the Turkish areas, and that’s only one of the problems:

The U.S.- and SDF-controlled area east of the Euphrates is also witnessing the stirrings of internal insurgency directed from outside. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “236 [SDF] fighters, civilians, oil workers, and officials” have been killed since August 2018 in incidents unrelated to the frontline conflict against Islamic State. . . . The SDF blames Turkey for these actions, and for earlier killings such as that of a prominent local Kurdish official. . . . There are other plausible suspects within Syria, however, including the Assad regime (or its Iranian allies) or Islamic State, all of which are enemies of the U.S.-supported Kurds.

The area controlled by the regime is by far the most secure of Syria’s three separate regions. [But, for instance, in] the restive Daraa province in the southwest, [there has been] a renewed small-scale insurgency against the Assad regime. . . .

As Islamic State’s caliphate disappears from Syria’s map, the country is settling into a twilight reality of de-facto division, in which a variety of low-burning insurgencies continue to claim lives. Open warfare in Syria is largely over. Peace, however, will remain a distant hope.

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Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: ISIS, Kurds, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, Turkey