When It Comes to the Jerusalem Consulate, the U.S. Should Do Nothing

In October, Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated Joe Biden’s campaign promise to reopen the American consulate in Israel’s capital—the functions of which have been taken over by the new U.S. embassy in the city—so it can serve as a de-facto mission to the Palestinian Authority. Such a move would run counter to diplomatic precedent, undermine Israeli sovereignty, and—as Shany Mor and Enia Krivine point out—violate American law. But there are other reasons to avoid it:

In theory, an American diplomatic mission to the Palestinians makes plenty of sense. It signals American commitment to a negotiated peace and helps to shore up the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, led by the aged and ailing President Mahmoud Abbas, whose popularity compares unfavorably to that of Hamas. A consulate would facilitate communication to the Palestinian government and Palestinian people, crucial not just as it relates to the conflict with Israel but a range of issues, from global jihad to vaccine transfers.

The practical solution to this problem is to open a new U.S. consulate at the center of Palestinian life in the West Bank where commerce, civil society, and government reside: Ramallah. It would not be the only such mission. More than two dozen countries have diplomatic missions in Ramallah, including China, India, and several Arab states.

However, placing the U.S. mission in Ramallah would be wildly unpopular with the Palestinians and would cause problems for Biden domestically, as the far left would perceive the decision as ceding Jerusalem to Israel in toto. As such, the Palestinians demand an American mission in eastern Jerusalem, the hoped-for capital of a future Palestinian state.

There are no good moves available to the Biden administration. Upsetting America’s closest regional ally over the placement of a consulate that is both impractical and legally incoherent is a bad move. Placing the consulate in Ramallah would cause the president problems with the Palestinians and domestically. The only credible option for the administration is to maintain the status quo in Jerusalem and hope this blows over.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Antony Blinken, Jerusalem, Palestinian Authority, US-Israel relations

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security