The Secretary of State’s Perverse Equivalence between Israel and the Palestinian Authority

In the past few weeks, Islamic State-inspired attacks—including multiple shootings last night—have left over a dozen dead in the Jewish state, and several others seriously injured. Yet after meeting with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the wake of two deadly attacks, Antony Blinken, the American secretary of state, declared that the way to “foster” peace is to “prevent actions on all sides that could raise tensions, including settlement expansion, settler violence, incitement to violence, demolitions, payments to individuals convicted of terrorism, evictions of families from homes they’ve lived in for decades.” Lahav Harkov comments:

Note that amidst a wave of terror by Palestinians against Israelis, Blinken’s list of the actions to foster peace includes four that fall to Israel and just one that is clearly the responsibility of the Palestinians, with a sixth item—“incitement to violence”—vague enough to belong to either or both.

Someone seeking to interpret Blinken’s remarks charitably might have presumed that he sought to bring up Israel’s faults in Jerusalem and would later stress the Palestinians’ problems in Ramallah, to encourage each side to change. But such a person would have been proven wrong when Blinken presented the exact same litany, almost verbatim, hours later that [same] day after a meeting with the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas.

Moreover, none of the recent deadly attacks in Israel took place in settlements; they all took place in cities that have been part of Israel from its establishment. They were clearly not about “settlement expansion;” they were motivated by a belief that the state of Israel should not exist.

Meanwhile, there is incitement to violence across Palestinian state-controlled media and on the Facebook pages of Abbas’s Fatah party. Most tragically, Palestinian textbooks are used to promote a violent and delusional agenda. . . . But perhaps the biggest incitement to violence of all is the fact that the Palestinian Authority literally incentivizes it. In 2021, the Palestinian Authority paid over $270 million in salaries to convicted terrorists in Israeli prisons and the families of those killed while committing acts of terror.

Read more at Newsweek

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

Iran’s Calculations and America’s Mistake

There is little doubt that if Hizballah had participated more intensively in Saturday’s attack, Israeli air defenses would have been pushed past their limits, and far more damage would have been done. Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack, trying to look at things from Tehran’s perspective, see this as an important sign of caution—but caution that shouldn’t be exaggerated:

Iran is well aware of the extent and capability of Israel’s air defenses. The scale of the strike was almost certainly designed to enable at least some of the attacking munitions to penetrate those defenses and cause some degree of damage. Their inability to do so was doubtless a disappointment to Tehran, but the Iranians can probably still console themselves that the attack was frightening for the Israeli people and alarming to their government. Iran probably hopes that it was unpleasant enough to give Israeli leaders pause the next time they consider an operation like the embassy strike.

Hizballah is Iran’s ace in the hole. With more than 150,000 rockets and missiles, the Lebanese militant group could overwhelm Israeli air defenses. . . . All of this reinforces the strategic assessment that Iran is not looking to escalate with Israel and is, in fact, working very hard to avoid escalation. . . . Still, Iran has crossed a Rubicon, although it may not recognize it. Iran had never struck Israel directly from its own territory before Saturday.

Byman and Pollack see here an important lesson for America:

What Saturday’s fireworks hopefully also illustrated is the danger of U.S. disengagement from the Middle East. . . . The latest round of violence shows why it is important for the United States to take the lead on pushing back on Iran and its proxies and bolstering U.S. allies.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy