Israel Will Not Suffer a Setback from Its Latest Strike on Hizballah

A recent Israeli attack on a Hizballah convoy in Syria killed high-ranking members of the terrorist organization and an Iranian general. Although Hizballah has issued the usual threats of revenge, Walter Russell Mead argues that Israel has the clear upper hand:

Spread thin in Syria, and with all its combat energy focused on propping up [Bashar] al-Assad, Hizballah is probably not ready to take on the Israelis in a big way. But if Hizballah follows through with its threats and responds to the Israeli attack with a counterattack, the inevitable devastating Israeli response will degrade Hizballah’s war-making capacity and quite possibly tilt the battle in Syria against the [Hizballah-Assad-Iran alliance]. . . .

The Israeli strike [also] leaves Iran with nothing but ugly choices. The war in Syria is turning into a war of attrition, and the combination of sanctions and a collapsing oil price make it harder for Iran to keep propping up its clients. Serious hostilities between Hizballah and Israel would likely change the balance of power in Syria, further undercutting Assad, and inflicting damage on Hizballah that Iran will be hard put to make good.

Read more at American Interest

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Hizballah, Iran, Israeli military, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war

Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood