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ISRAEL TO IRAN: 'IT'S YOUR CALL ON GOLAN HEIGHTS!'

MUNIR ALI NAIM SHAITI (circled) has been identified as Hezbollah’s leader on the eastern Golan Heights (photo credit: ARAB MEDIA)

On his tour of Syria, the Iranian Chief of Staff was accompanied by his Syrian counter-part; in other words, the Iranian and Syrian armies are officially one and the same. There's another twist to the developing situation. In a rare development, IDF Intelligence has apparently released a photo of the new Hezbollah commander identified as Munir Ali Naim Shaiti. The two former Hezbollah commanders have been killed apparently by Israel. So why would Israel release the photo of the new commander at this time? It is reasonable to assume that if Israel had such top secret information it would want to stay mum for obvious reasons. The only rational explanation might be that Israel wanted to spook the Hezbollah commander by warning him: 'We have your number, where you are and how to get to you, if you launch any new terror attacks!'

And speaking of Hezbollah, for the first time there have been demonstrations in Lebanon about the Muslim Shiite army that takes its marching borders not from Beirut but from Tehran. In fact, Lebanon's President, Michel Aoun, has referred to Hezbollah as a legitimate component of the Lebanese military. This has wide ranging implications for Lebanon's Sunni, Druze, and Muslim citizens. Hezbollah has the run of the country and literally rules southern Lebanon and the border region with Israel. It is an open secret that Hezbollah has stored away thousands of rockets and missiles under scores of Lebanese villages along the Israeli border. In other words, these Lebanese villages now serve as Hezbollah military bases and will be involved in any future war that breaks out between Hezbollah and Israel. And obviously, if the Lebanese government officially recognizes Hezbollah as part of its army, Lebanon will bear responsibility for Hezbollah's future actions. The question is, why have the Lebanese people acquiesced in letting Hezbollah take over their country? Apparently they took the easy way out and preferred not to stand up to Hezbollah that has turned into an Iranian proxy.

On the political front, President Trump is expected to soon take off the wraps from new proposals for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. His personal brokers, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, have come and gone meeting with Bibi and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The recent reunion between Fatah led by Abbas who governs the West Bank and Hamas that rules Gaza is linked to the dire economic straits in Gaza. Hamas had no option but to appeal to Abbas for economic aid. But another reason may be the need for the Palestinians to get their house in order before the Trump proposals. But don't hold your breath – Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar is quoted by the official Gaza news agency as declaring:

Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar

    'The decision is no longer about recognizing Israel but about wiping out Israel. And anyone who thinks we will severe out ties with Tehran is delusional'.

When asked whether Hamas will hand over its weapons to the Palestinian Authority Sinwar replied:

    'That will only happen when Satan enters Paradise'... Nothing has changed - we will never discuss accepting Israel, we will only discuss how to destroy Israel. And we will never give up our weapons to do it!'

On the other hand, the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah has renewed full security coordination with Israel in preventing terror attacks from the West Bank.

In domestic politics, police investigators are waiting to question the PM about his acceptance of gifts, his secret meetings with a newspaper owner to discuss better press coverage, and possible kickbacks by some of his closest associates in the purchase of three super subs from a German shipbuilder. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister will soon fly off on a five-day visit to London. Former PM Ehud Barak of Labor charges that Bibi is doing all he can to delay facing the investigators. To add to his legal headaches, his wife Sarah is again being sued by a domestic employee on charges of brutal treatment.

Labor Party Leader Avi Gabbay (By Laliv g - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0)

In the opposition, Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay triggered a minor brouhaha by stating that Israel should not commit to giving up West Bank settlements before peace talks even get started with the Palestinians. Some Laborites blasted Gabbay for jettisoning Labor's long-term position on the need to give up West Bank settlements. However, Gabbay, who left a brilliant career as a CEO of the Bezek telecommunications conglomerate to start a political career, argues it's a big mistake in negotiating to start talking about what you're willing to give before you even go to the table. Moreover, Gabbay is trying to draw future voters from the Likud who believe Labor is too soft on the Palestinians. On this score, Gabbay has declared that he is a 'Rabinist' following in the footsteps of the late Yitzhak Rabin who insisted on iron-clad security, including an IDF presence along the Jordan River as part of a peace accord with the Palestinians.

Meanwhile, Channel 2 TV has just released an opinion poll showing the Likud is still leading the pack if an election were held today when it comes to winning Knesset seats in the 120-member parliament:

  • Likud…………26
  • Lapid Party …..21
  • Labor…………20
  • Arab party……12 
  • Jewish Home... 12

Bibi is still the preferred candidate for PM out-stripping Lapid and Gabbay by 28% to 11% for both Gabbay and Lapid. But if the PM were indicted this would upset the applecart because none of the PM's potential successors in Likud come near to his popularity in Israeli politics.





 

David Essing

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