Monday, November 8, 2010

Chutzpah! Israel Risks US Fury With New Settlement Plan

The timing of this announcement beggars belief.  The Israelis are today announcing plans to build more than 1000 new housing units in East Jerusalem.

Obama is away from D.C., in Asia; Biden is minding the store - the same Biden, please note, whom the Israelis dissed when, during his state visit to Israel several months ago, they announced plans for new housing in the Occupied Territories.  Meanwhile, Netanyahu is visiting D.C., where Congress has his back and the resurgent Republicans would be more than happy to slap his back, hail him as a hero, and thank him for sticking it to Mr. Obama with this new announcement.  Obama's peace process never really got out of the starting gate.  With an announcement like this, it's for all intents and purposes been euthanized - and Mr. Abbas can expect to come under even more fire at home for ever thinking that the US might somehow broker a peace settlement.

But at what point are American Jews and Christian Zionists going to recognize that, with such provocations, Israel is bringing even more trouble, more threats, down upon itself - quite possibly, as Linda Heard's essay in Arab News headlines, digging its own grave. She quotes IDF Military Intelligence General Yadlin: 

 “The recent security calm is unprecedented,” he said, “but there should be no mistake that there are efforts (by elements) in the area to grow stronger. The next military confrontation will not be between Israel and another country but between Israel and two or three different fronts at the same time. It will not be similar to anything we have grown accustomed to during the Second Lebanon War or Operation Cast Lead,” he told a Knesset panel.

Yadlin predicted a far greater threat from a strengthened Syria that has acquired advanced S-300 anti-aircraft mobile systems from Russia. “The effective, deadly missiles will make it more difficult for the air force to have freedom of operations,” he said. He further warned that Hezbollah is also growing stronger in terms of advanced weaponry and expects S-300 missiles will be passed by Damascus to Hezbollah’s military wing.

Israel has enjoyed for years an overwhelming military dominance in the region, along with the support of the US.  But its freedom of action has indeed become constrained by the emergence of Iran and Syria, and especially, Turkey, which for decades was an ally of Israel but now features a government led by an Islamist party, the AKP, that has pledged to uphold the secular values with which the republic was founded, but that (along with most of Turkey's public) has taken a very dim view of Israel in the aftermath of the IDF's devastation of Gaza two years ago and its killing of Turkish protestors aboard the Gaza-blockade-running ship, the Mavi Marmara (for which Turkey has demanded an apology from Israel, still not forthcoming - nor will it be).

The point?  Any new conflict is likely to be a regional one, with significant loss of population and damage to infrastructure not only regionally, but in Israel as well.  Thousands of Israelis will choose to emigrate; joining the thousands who have already done so.  But as Ms. heard points out (and many others have made these points as well), it doesn't have to be that way:

There is a very simple answer to such looming regional crises and to Israel’s ultimate security. Israel holds the key but refuses to walk through the door. Engaging in a peace process that would involve the creation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital — blessed by the Palestinians and all Arab League member countries — would put a lid on any bubbling conflict and diminish the crowd-pleasing abilities of Hassan Nasrallah and Iran’s leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Tehran has indicated on several occasions that it would endorse the will of the Palestinians should any peace process be sealed and would be expected to quit saber rattling. At the same time, Hezbollah’s military raison d’être, as the only organization capable of defending Lebanon from the Israeli aggressor, would be substantially weakened once Lebanon’s only foe is rendered benign.

And from a broader world perspective, Middle East peace would likely diminish the numbers of recruits queuing up to join extremist entities such as Al-Qaeda.

Peace would put an end to Israel’s security worries, bring increased prosperity, and dampen demographic concerns that Israeli Jews will soon be outnumbered. Moreover, there would be no more anti-Israel boycotts, no need for all young Israelis to be conscripted into military service, no necessity for such high taxation — and Israelis could go out into the world with their heads held high.

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