The President’s Indiscretion Won’t Shake the World’s Best Intelligence Relationship

Reports that Donald Trump shared highly classified information with the Russian ambassador and foreign minister dominated headlines this week. After the news broke, it was soon asserted that the intelligence in question came from Israeli spying on Islamic State (IS), raising the question of whether Israel’s sources would be compromised and its officials less willing to share intelligence with the U.S. in the future. Ronen Bergman comments:

Israel has good reason to be concerned about its intelligence making its way to Moscow: Russia is a major player in the war in Syria on Israel’s northern border, where it has also become a close ally of Iran and Hizballah, Israel’s sworn enemies. But the problem goes even deeper: if Israeli intelligence that has been shared with the United States—whether the National Security Agency, the CIA, the Defense Department, or the White House—is not safely guarded, Israel faces a major threat to its security. Cooperation with America’s agencies is deeply embedded in Israel’s intelligence community. . . .

In this relationship, Israel has always had an advantage in the recruitment and handling of agents in Arab countries, and the Americans have the edge when it comes to the technology for intercepting transmissions. In practical terms, Israel has become the eyes and ears of the United States in the Middle East. This arrangement has freed the United States from a heavy intelligence-gathering burden. But it has also forced the Americans to depend upon the Israelis. . . .

In recent months, Israel has passed on to the United States a great deal of highly sensitive and detailed information about the close coordination among the armed forces of Syria, Iran, Hizballah, and Russia, under Russian command. The problem, according to a former senior Mossad official, lies not in the information but in the most highly sensitive sources, some of whom were cultivated for years. . . . But after six decades of [American-Israeli] cooperation, it is difficult to picture the two intelligence communities operating separately. It would cause untold damage to both.

Read more at New York Times

More about: Donald Trump, Intelligence, ISIS, Israel & Zionism, Russia, US-Israel relations

Would an American-Backed UN Resolution Calling for a Temporary Ceasefire Undermine Israel?

Yesterday morning, the U.S. vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution, sponsored by Algeria, that demanded an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. As an alternative, the American delegation has been circulating a draft resolution calling for a “temporary ceasefire in Gaza as soon as practicable, based on the formula of all hostages being released.” Benny Avni comments:

While the Israel Defense Force may be able to maintain its Gaza operations under that provision, the U.S.-proposed resolution also warns the military against proceeding with its plan to enter the southern Gaza town of Rafah. Israel says that a critical number of Hamas fighters are hiding inside tunnels and in civilian buildings at Rafah, surrounded by a number of the remaining 134 hostages.

In one paragraph, the text of the new American resolution says that the council “determines that under current circumstances a major ground offensive into Rafah would result in further harm to civilians and their further displacement including potentially into neighboring countries, which would have serious implications for regional peace and security, and therefore underscores that such a major ground offensive should not proceed under current circumstances.”

In addition to the paragraph about Rafah, the American-proposed resolution is admonishing Israel not to create a buffer zone inside Gaza. Such a narrow zone, as wide as two miles, is seen by many Israelis as a future protection against infiltration from Gaza.

Perhaps, as Robert Satloff argues, the resolution isn’t intended to forestall an IDF operation in Rafah, but only—consistent with prior statements from the Biden administration—to demand that Israel come up with a plan to move civilians out of harms way before advancing on the city.

If that is so, the resolution wouldn’t change much if passed. But why is the U.S. proposing an alternative ceasefire resolution at all? Strategically, Washington has nothing to gain from stopping Israel, its ally, from achieving a complete victory over Hamas. Why not instead pass a resolution condemning Hamas (something the Security Council has not done), calling for the release of hostages, and demanding that Qatar and Iran stop providing the group with arms and funds? Better yet, demand that these two countries—along with Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon—arrest Hamas leaders on their territory.

Surely Russia would veto such a resolution, but still, why not go on the offensive, rather than trying to come up with another UN resolution aimed at restraining Israel?

Read more at New York Sun

More about: Gaza War 2023, U.S.-Israel relationship, United Nations