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Israel’s new dilemma

Oct 30,2017 - Last updated at Oct 30,2017

Explicit in many statements coming from various Israeli politicians is one theme: a military confrontation between Hizbollah and Israel is a matter of when, not if.

Apparently, Israelis seek this confrontation as a preventive war in order to prevent Hizbollah from gaining a military edge in years to come. Therefore, Israelis seek to incapacitate or destroy Hizbollah.

Major General Herzl Halevy, the chief of AMAN (the Israeli military intelligence), hinted at the annual Herzliya security conference, held in June, that the next war with Hizbollah would not be a simple one.

The context of the Israeli debate indicates that another round with Hizbollah is under careful consideration.

Unlike the war of 2006, when the Israeli army failed to achieve any of its declared goals, a likely war this time may be even worse.

Israeli sources underscore that Hizbollah is a better militia on the battleground than during the last Lebanon war. It acquired some 100,000 missiles with the capacity to hit the heartland of Israel, thus causing civilian casualties.

Besides, Hizbollah fighters have acquired a great battle experience in Syria, and this should be seen as a deterrent that Hizbollah never enjoyed before.

Israel’s dilemma is twofold. First, Hizbollah has developed considerable military capabilities that will be deployed in case of war. Second, Iran has gained a foothold in Syria, with the implication that its militias may take part in a possible war in the future.

Besides, Iran has gained international legitimacy thanks to the nuclear agreement.

Seen this way, Israel will face a new strategic environment where Iran may deploy some of its forces near the Israeli border.

The working assumption in Israel is that terrorism will be defeated in Syria, Americans and Russians will leave the region, and Iran may stay. This is a scenario that many Israelis talk about and see as a nightmare.

Many pundits ponder: if a war with Hizbollah is not an option that Israel should seek, then what should the Israeli government do?

Israelis talk about the need to construct a coalition with Sunni countries to counter Iran’s influence. This is easier said than done.

Sunni Arab countries will have a hard time explaining to their public a coalition with Israel when the latter is seen as the key stumbling block in the peace process.

Some leaked reports indicate that Israelis are coordinating with key Sunni states to contain Iran. However, no single Arab state will dare be seen in the same camp with Israel, a fact that Israelis are unwilling to understand.

It all boils down to one point: the rational logic of constructing a coalition with key Arab states to stand up to a common threat (Iran) does not apply in a region where Israel is seen more perilous than Iran.

Therefore, instead of pounding the drums of war, Israelis would be better off starting a genuine peace process and negotiating in good faith.

I believe that this will be a win-win for all contending parties, as war can bring nothing but doom and gloom.

 

 

hassbarari@gmail.com

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Comments

The author seems to have forgotten that in the Middle East the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

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