Experts View Rising Tensions on Israel's Northern Border - Mitch Ginsburg (Times of Israel)
In January, after an Iranian general and several senior Hizbullah operatives were killed in the Syrian Golan Heights, reportedly by Israel, the commander of Iran's Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, flew to Beirut.
Brig.-Gen. (res.) Shimon Shapira, a former military secretary to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a senior research associate at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said:
"He went there to restrain [Hizbullah], to ensure that Israel was not given a pretext to act with massive force."
Shapira asserted that the entire notion of deterrence vis-a-vis Hizbullah "is an illusion." The sole reason for restraint is Iran, which wants to ensure that its investment in Hizbullah is saved as a deterrent against an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.
Former national security adviser Maj.-Gen. Yaakov Amidror agreed. He said that from the Iranian perspective, if Hizbullah triggers a war with Israel and is forced to pull its fighters out of Syria, "there is no way to save Bashar [Assad]."
Western Weapons for Hizbullah - Eyal Zisser (Israel Hayom)
On April 19, a shipment of French weapons arrived in Lebanon, the first part of a $3 billion arms deal Saudi Arabia will be underwriting.
The weapons were earmarked for the Lebanese army as part of an effort to bolster Lebanon's military against Hizbullah's attempts to take over Lebanon.
But for a number of years, the Lebanese army has been working closely with Hizbullah. So it's only a matter of time before the French weapons find their way into Hizbullah's hands.
Given this, it's surprising that there are still those who think that supplying weapons to the Lebanese army is the way to weaken Hizbullah.
Prof. Eyal Zisser is former director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University.
New York Times Headline Eliminates Palestinian Violence (CAMERA)
Last weekend, two Palestinian men were fatally shot by Israeli police after attacking officers with knives.
The New York Times headlined the story: "Israeli Officers Kill 2 Palestinian Men," which whitewashes Palestinian responsibility for the violence.
By what journalistic standard is it acceptable to run a headline which reports the effect (Palestinians are killed) and ignores the cause (Palestinians attack), completely distorting the nature of the incident?
Lebanese Immigrant to U.S. Gets 5 Years for Lying about Hizbullah Links (Daily Star-Lebanon)
A U.S. court sentenced Wissam "Sam" Allouche, 45, a Lebanese immigrant living in Texas, to five years in jail for lying to federal authorities after failing to reveal his former links with Hizbullah.
He became an American citizen in 2009 after marrying his wife, a U.S. army soldier.
Allouche had command authority in Hizbullah and also failed to disclose that he was held as a prisoner of war by Israel.
His ex-wife testified that Allouche claimed he had killed an Israeli pilot captured by Hizbullah.
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- Senate Takes Up Bill on Congressional Approval of Iran Deal - Deb Riechmann
The Senate begins debate Tuesday over legislation empowering Congress to review and possibly reject any nuclear pact the Obama administration develops with Iran. The bill approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has gained the tacit approval of Obama, and proponents are trying to discourage any changes. Among proposed additions to the bill are demands that Iran release any U.S. citizens it is holding and refrain from any cooperation with nuclear-armed North Korea. Another insists that any agreement be treated as an international treaty, requiring two-thirds ratification by the Senate.
- Iran Accuses Saudi Arabia of "Treachery" Against Islamic World - Nasser Karimi
The head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, on Monday accused Saudi Arabia of treachery against the Islamic world, the official IRNA news agency reported.
"Today, the treacherous Saudis are following in Israel's footsteps," he was quoted as saying, apparently referring to the Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen against Iran-supported Houthi rebels. (AP-Toronto Star)
- Iran Is Standing By Its Expensive Ally, Syria - Nicholas Blanford
Iran has dispatched thousands of soldiers and paramilitary fighters to bolster Syria's flagging army and billions of dollars in loans to prop up its economy. The Assad regime faces a serious shortage of fresh soldiers and militiamen willing to continue fighting, making it ever more reliant on Iran, its close ally of 35 years. The Syrian Army is estimated to have suffered 80,000 to 100,000 dead and wounded in four years of war.
The critical manpower shortage is compounded by the recent coordination on Syria policy between the region's Sunni powerhouses - Saudi Arabia and Turkey - in cooperation with Jordan and Qatar.
Diplomatic sources in Beirut estimate that Iran spends $1-2 billion a month in Syria in cash handouts and military support.
(Christian Science Monitor)
- Formulating a Strategy to Deal with Iran's Nuclear Program - Amos Yadlin
Israel views Iran with nuclear weapons as a threat to its security of the highest order, if not an outright existential threat. Israel should focus on improving the parameters of the emerging agreement. At the same time, Israel must work with the U.S. to promote a coordinated plan of action that would provide solutions to the dangers inherent in an Iranian breakout in case the optimistic scenario envisioned by the U.S. does not materialize.
I believe that if Prime Minister Netanyahu determines we are at the point where a decision must be made on accepting a military nuclear Iran or stopping it using military force, he would do what it takes to stop Iran militarily.
However, U.S. enthusiasm for reaching an agreement has severely weakened the administration's position in the negotiations. The reasoning used by the administration to justify the interim agreement with Iran and the parameters for the final agreement greatly eroded the U.S. commitment whereby "all options are on the table." Based on their statements, it was possible to understand that if the administration assessed it was at the crucial junction, there would be little likelihood it would choose to bomb Iran rather than see Iran with the bomb. Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, former IDF chief of Defense Intelligence, is director of INSS.
(Institute for National Security Studies)
- A Legal and Operational Assessment of Israel's Targeting Practices - Michael Schmitt and John Merriam
Shortly after the conclusion of the 2014 Gaza war, the IDF invited us to Israel to examine its targeting practices and application of the law of armed conflict (LOAC). Israeli targeting practices and positions on the LOAC are broadly within the mainstream of contemporary state practice.
Israel's chief antagonists (Hamas in Gaza and Hizbullah in Lebanon) possess vast quantities of rockets that they regularly launch at Israeli population centers throughout the entire country. The destruction of rockets and rocket-launching infrastructure (often in the form of civilian houses converted to military use in order to deter Israeli attack) has a high degree of "anticipated military advantage," such that it may justify (from the IDF's standpoint) levels of collateral damage that may strike outside observers as potentially excessive.
Broadly speaking, we concluded that IDF positions on targeting law largely track those of the U.S. military. The IDF is served by a corps of highly competent and well-trained legal advisors who operate with a remarkable degree of autonomy, and its operations are subject to extensive judicial monitoring. We found that their approach to targeting is consistent with the law and, in many cases, worthy of emulation. Michael Schmitt is Professor of International Law and Director of the Stockton Center for the Study of International Law at the U.S. Naval War College.
John Merriam is a U.S. Army Judge Advocate currently serving as Associate Director of the Stockton Center.
(Just Security-New York University School of Law)
- The Iran Deal that Never Was - Gideon Rachman
There is no Iran nuclear deal. The joint statement released by Iran and its negotiating partners earlier this month was a few short paragraphs, skirting all the crucial issues. All the detail about what was "agreed" was actually contained in a unilateral statement issued by the Americans on April 2 - the so-called White House fact sheet. Iran had not signed off on that "fact sheet." And, in subsequent days, Iran made it clear that it dissents from the American interpretation of what was agreed.
The two sides are meant to bridge all these gaps between now and their next deadline of June 30, which is when a final agreement is meant to be agreed. However, given that the framework agreement is actually a mirage, it seems rather unlikely that the two sides will sign off on the final deal in June - or even later this year. Talk of an Iran "deal" is certainly unjustified. Given the gaps between Iran and the U.S., failure is still more likely than success.
Is the U.S. Picking Another Fight with Israel? - Steven Rosen (Washington Times)
- According to Bloomberg News, "The administration has signaled that it might abandon the decades-long U.S. policy of protecting Israel at the UN and back a [French] Security Council resolution laying out terms for a two-state solution....Robert Malley, the Middle East director for President Barack Obama's National Security Council, told at least one European nation" that the administration may support a resolution "defining the parameters for a Mideast peace agreement."
- This resolution would be a triumph for those who have long wanted the Great Powers to dictate Israel's future, as demanded by the Arab League since Israel's creation.
- The French resolution demands "a full phased withdrawal of Israeli security forces," without reference to Israel's right to secure borders previously guaranteed by Resolution 242 in 1967.
- Most Israelis believe that full withdrawal of the IDF from the West Bank under today's conditions would lead quickly to a takeover by Hamas, which is being armed by Iran.
A Hamas state in the West Bank would result in a West Bank swarming with rockets and suicide bombers, bringing war to Israel's adjacent heartland.
- Beyond the security issue, the French UN resolution would threaten the homes of 41% of the Jews living in Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem outside the 1949 Armistice Line.
- In the past forty years, every American president has used the veto to block anti-Israel resolutions at the UN Security Council, with eight presidents casting 42 vetoes in Israel's defense.
- A dozen leading House Democrats, all Jewish, have told deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes that Obama should stop acting as if only Israel is holding up the peace process, while not expressing a word of disappointment about Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
The writer, former foreign policy director of AIPAC, is director of the Washington Project at the Middle East Forum.
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