Hamas Wants to Continue Its War on Israel While Gradually Taking Over the West Bank

In the past few weeks, the Shin Bet has broken up a massive terror plot directed by Hamas’s leaders in Qatar and Turkey, arresting over 50 of the group’s West Bank operatives in the process. Yaakov Lappin discusses this and other recent events with Eitan Dangot, Israel’s former coordinator of activities in Judea and Samaria:

“Hamas hasn’t budged one millimeter from its ideological commitment to Israel’s destruction, and it is implementing this gradually,” said Dangot. “Its military wing is building up force, and engages in rounds of fighting, like May’s conflict. Due to organizational problems, and secondary considerations created by Hamas’s sovereign rule over a population, the organization also opts for periods of calm, in line with its analysis of its interests at any given time.”

With Hamas’s home turf of Gaza facing limitations as a base for war with Israel, Hamas has reserved a strategic role for the West Bank, said Dangot. Beyond using it as a base for terror attacks targeting Israeli civilians and security forces, Hamas is committed to expanding its influence in the areas currently under Palestinian Authority (PA) rule, “step by step,” with the “objective of taking over the West Bank gradually and infiltrating the PLO,” he said.

In addition, he said that the rioting that occurred in Israel during the May conflict represents “the most urgent problem that Israel must take care of—sovereignty and disturbances within its borders.”

Dangot said that a “small but problematic part of the Arab-Israeli sector” exploited tensions, and saw a combination of criminal and nationalistic motives come together for unprecedented levels of violence inside Israel. This is a more alarming situation than security challenges in the West Bank, he said, since in the latter arena, Israel maintains strong intelligence coverage and is able to activate its force effectively while sharing the common interest of stability with the PA.

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Read more at JNS

More about: Hamas, Israeli Security, Palestinian terror, West Bank

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy