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ISRAEL AND THE GULF CRISIS

A tanker in the Gulf of Oman near the strategic Strait of Hormuz were reportedly attacked on Thursday. (Photo/Iranian Student News Agency)

How is Israel reaction to the current escalation between the US and Iran in the Gulf? Obviously, Israel is rooting for Trump, as are all the Arab states, which also fear Iran as a regional threat. But, at the same time, Israel is wary of being accused of egging on the US against the Ayatollahs in Tehran. The smart thing for Netanyahu to do was to order all political and military officials to keep their mouths shut. So far, they have. But there is no doubt that if Trump requested military or intelligence aid, Israel would hop to it.

The military aspect

The fact is that Israel and Iran are engaged in a covert war in neighboring Syria.

Threatened by a fanatical enemy like Iran, Israel must always be on high alert, crisis in the Gulf or not. The fact is that Israel and Iran are engaged in a covert war in neighboring Syria. After lending massive support for the "Butcher of Damascus," Tehran is now trying to parlay this into building a forward military base against Israel in Syrian territory. It would be modeled on the Hezbollah example in southern Lebanon, established under the noses of UN inspectors. There, Hezbollah fighters, who have stored over 100,000 rockets and missiles in and under Lebanese villages, are ready to launch them into Israel upon receiving orders from Tehran. But, in the Syrian case, bases would be manned by home-grown Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Israel has learned the lesson of south Lebanon, and according to foreign sources, is using its air power to eliminate this clear and present Iranian threat by launching surgical airstrikes on this Iranian buildup and specifically on the transport of missiles between Syrian and Lebanon.

To Netanyahu's credit, he has persuaded Russian President Vladimir Putin that this is also in Moscow's interest. Apparently, Putin is not thrilled by having fanatical Iranian Revolutionary Guards horning in on Russia's control over Syria.

Gaza - again on the boil

Israeli residents along the Gaza border are fed up and demanding that Bibi take off the gloves.

With the advent of the dry summer season, Palestinians are back to again launching balloon firebombs to scorch the fields of Israeli farmers. In addition, they are firing more rockets into Israel. In one very close call, a rocket hit a building, just missing a young man. Israel has responded by cautiously by launching surgical airstrikes that nearly always avoid inflicting Palestinian casualties. The terrorists, and Palestinians in general, scatter fast after rockets are fired into Israel. In any case, Israeli residents along the Gaza border are fed up and demanding that Bibi take off the gloves. But now, in the middle of a new election campaign, after failing to form a new coalition after the recent ballot, Netanyahu is trying to keep the lid on.

New twist in the election race

Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the "Russian party," startled Bible and the country by barring Netanyahu from forming the required 61-seat majority in the 120-member Knesset. Lieberman has again shaken up Israeli politics, pulling a new rabbit out of his political bag. He says that he will now try and force Bibi and the Blue & White party to form a National Unity government without the ultra-orthodox religious parties that have been determining who will become prime minister. This, in return for Netanyahu exempting all their young men from serving in the IDF as well as granting fat, government budget for their religious and educational institutions.

Politically, Lieberman has a point in urging the Likud and Blue & White to join forces. Both these parties firmly believe that there is no Palestinian peace partner at present, and even the most 'moderate' Palestinians, such as President Mahmud Abbas, are categorically opposed to ever recognizing a Jewish state. Bear in mind, Blue & White is led by three former IDF Chiefs of Staff and is obviously very firm about strong security arrangements as part of any peace deal with the Palestinians. Sound familiar? Bibi's Likud party also hangs tough on security (as a matter of fact, I can personally testify that in an interview with the late Labor leader Yitzhak Rabin two days before his assassination, he stated that the IDF would need to be stationed in the Jordan Valley basin of the West Bank as part of any permanent peace plan.

Likud and Blue & White garnered 71 Knesset members combined in the recent election.

Likud and Blue & White garnered 71 Knesset members combined in the recent election. Say, and this is a big 'say,' the Palestinians agree to make peace with the Jewish state, and the government based on these two big parties differed over the issue, they could simply decide on a national referendum, or call an early election for the Israeli people to decide. In the meantime, the state of Israel would have a rational and truly democratic government that does not kowtow to the outrageous demands of the ultra-orthodox religious parties or the extreme nationalists who refuse "to give up an inch" for a peace agreement with the Palestinians.



Political Analyst David Essing

 


David Essing

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