The Pros and Cons, for Israel, of the U.S. Withdrawal from Syria

The American decision to remove its troops from Syria benefits Iran to Israel’s detriment, writes Yaakov Amidror, but there is also a potential upside for the Jewish state:

Israel must operate on the . . . assumption that has always been the foundation of [its] defense doctrine: that Israel will defend itself. This is the country’s raison d’être as well as the outcome of geopolitical realities. . . .

With respect to [Israel’s] battles against Iran, there will be no change after the withdrawal of American forces, for the simple reason that the American forces have not taken part in these battles. The U.S. did not even once act against the Iranian war machine that is emerging in Syria. All U.S. forces and efforts were invested in the elimination of Islamic State (IS). . . . [Nevertheless], the withdrawal of American forces will immediately open up new maneuvering possibilities for the Iranians, which were previously denied them due to the presence of the important American base in the region on the main transportation route connecting Iraq and Syria, close to the Jordanian border.

The Iranian dream of a land corridor from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean which will serve their logistic needs will quickly be realized after the American withdrawal. Such a move will make it much easier for Iran to transport equipment and forces by land, and therein lies its importance both to Hizballah and to the project of building an Iranian military infrastructure in Syria. . . . There is no doubt that this will pose a greater challenge to Israel. . . .

From Israel’s point of view, [however], there are [also] two possible benefits arising from the president’s decision. Once the U.S. has left the region, there will be one fewer player that Israel must consider when planning its operations in Syria. In general, an equation with fewer variables is easier to understand and deal with. . . . The withdrawal of the U.S. leaves Israel as the strongest and most stable country in the region and the only serious player with which the main Arab countries can cooperate in the confrontation with Iran and IS. The extent to which Israel’s position is strengthened as a result of the vacuum left by the Americans is difficult to assess, but the potential benefits are significant.

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More about: Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy

 

Why Israel Pretends That Hamas Fired Rockets by Accident

March 21 2019

Israeli military and political officials have repeated Hamas’s dubious claim that the launching of two rockets at Tel Aviv last week was inadvertent. To Smadar Perry, accepting Hamas’s story rather than engaging in further retaliation is but a convenient, and perhaps necessary, way of aiding Egyptian efforts to broker a deal with the terrorist group. But even if these efforts succeed, the results will be mixed:

The [Israeli] security cabinet has met in Tel Aviv and decided that they would continue indirect negotiations with Gaza. A message was sent to Egypt, whose delegation is going back to Gaza to pass on the Israeli demands for calm. The Egyptians also have to deal with the demands from Hamas, which include, among other things, an increase in aid from $15 million to $30 million per month and an increase in the supply of electricity.

The requests are reasonable, but they do leave a sour taste in the mouth. Israel must ensure that this financial aid does not end up in the pockets of Hamas and its associates. [Israel] also knows that if it says “no” to everything, the Iranians will step in, with the help of their Gazan friends in Islamic Jihad. They are just waiting for the opportunity.

Hamas also must deal with the fallout from a series of massive handouts from Qatar. For when the citizens of the Gaza Strip saw that the money was going to the Hamas leadership, who were also enjoying a fine supply of electricity to their own houses, they took to the streets in protest—and this time it was not Israel that was the focus of their anger. . .

[But] here is the irony. With Egyptian help, Israel can reach understandings for calm with Gaza, despite the lack of a direct channel. . . . In the West Bank, where the purportedly friendlier Fatah is in charge, it is more complicated, at least until the eighty-three-year-old Mahmoud Abbas is replaced.

As evidence for that last statement, consider the murder of two Israelis in the West Bank on Sunday, and the Palestinians who threw explosives at Israeli soldiers at Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem yesterday.

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More about: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, West Bank