Netanyahu's Game Plan
On the morning of July 23rd, I interviewed in depth a leading expert on the politics in the Middle East who is also a welcome visitor to the prime minister's office. What he had to say fascinated me.
Israel wants to destroy the tunnels but not Hamas. Hamas serves Israel’s interests, which are to keep the Palestinians divided (That’s why she fights the reconciliation agreement so much) and to maintain order in Gaza. With Hamas in power Israel has a party to hold responsible.
Israel does not cut off the flow of electricity to avoid the backlash from the world. Israel has a better card to play. The infrastructure in Gaza is falling apart. Electricity supply is intermittent. Sewage is a mess. But the lack of water is Gaza’s Achilles heel. Israel at the moment does not supply any water. Sooner or later Hamas is going to try to get the world to force Israel to supply their water needs. At that time Israel will insist on demilitarization in exchange. She will not allow Turkey to deliver water via tankers, he said. (I believe, easier said than done. The pressure on Israel to permit this humanitarian aid would be enormous.)
Iran is very upset with their proxy Hamas for starting this war. Iran has invested billions in underwriting the cost of the tunnels and the supply of rockets and rocket-building materials. Its purpose in doing so was not to finance a mini-war but to have the threat of an attack by Hamas hanging over Israel’s head to inhibit Israel from attacking Iran. Now that threat has been neutralized and Iran’s investment squandered. (I have long argued that Israel should take out her enemies, Hamas and Hizb’allah, one by one at a time of her choosing rather than to have to defend herself on all borders at the same time.) Iran may not be so quick now to rebuild Hamas. Qatar is waiting to fill their shoes.
The “Arab Spring” has yet to visit Iran but it will, even though Iranians are not Arabs. They are Persians and constitute 51% of the population. Ethnic strife will surface aided and abetted by Saudi Arabia and Israel. The major minority groups consisting of Kurds (7%) Azeris (24%) and Gilaki and Mazandarani (8%) already have good relations with Israel. Their populations are growing while that of the Persians is in serious decline.
There is a major difference between the EU and the U.S. The EU is very concerned about the growing Islamist threat to Europe. America, not so much. The EU sees Hamas as connected to al Nusra, which is fighting Assad in Syria. Both of them are backed by the Muslim Brotherhood and Turkey. Many European Jihadis have joined al Nusra or other Islamist groups and on returning to Europe will pose a growing threat. So Europeans see Hamas as part of the Islamist threat.
The U.S. is doing all it can to support the Muslim Brotherhood and its proxies. In this they join Qatar. They want to rescue Hamas and return to the ceasefire of 2012. The suspension of flights instigated by the U.S. FAA is thought to be a political gambit initiated by Kerry to give him leverage to get Israel to agree the terms of Hama, now supported by the PA. The U.S. also has been withholding from Israel evidence of how extensive the tunnel infrastructure was. This is not what one would expect of friends. As for what is behind Obama’s embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood, he attributes it to the fact that Obama is a Muslim and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Perhaps Obama also sees himself as the Caliph of any future Caliphate.
The U.S. and Qatar have a symbiotic relationship. The U.S. has two major military bases in Qatar and the Brookings Institute, which has excessive influence in the U.S. State Department, also has a branch in Doha, Qatar. Qatar and the U.S. worked hand in glove to destabilize Libya and kill Gadhafi who no longer posed a threat to the U.S. Qatar is a major financier of Islamist groups all over the Middle East, including Hamas, and in Libya. Recently the U.S. just sold them arms for $11.4 billion. No doubt these arms are for distribution.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Israel are vehemently opposed to giving Hamas any victory. They want it demilitarized and neutralized. Saudi Arabia slammed the door on Kerry and Qatar. So did Egypt. Emotions are running high. The EU has come out in favor of demilitarization.
Meanwhile Assad has succeeded in making Syria a Shiite country, albeit a smaller one. He destroyed the Palestinian refugee camps and caused many Sunnis, including the Palestinian refugees, to flee the country to Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. The demographic balance in Lebanon has therefore changed and Hizb’allah is not as dominant as it was. Saudi Arabia has also given the Lebanese army $3.5 billion dollars so that it could take on Hizb’allah. That battle is yet to be fought, perhaps in conjunction with Israel which will join in the fray.
Syria and Iran have had a hand in building up the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). They want ISIS to be as ruthless as possible so that Syria is justified in fighting them. Iran wants a presence in Iraq and creating threats to the Shiite community is a good way to ensure this. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, wants to see the breakup of Iraq so that Iraq can’t threaten them as it did under Hussein. So Saudi Arabia is also supporting ISIS. Israel for her part said she was ready to recognize Kurdish independence. In this regard both Saudi Arabia and Israel are defying America, which is wedded to a unified Iraq.
Kerry is now in town to see if he can force a ceasefire. He will be as unsuccessful in this endeavor as he was in trying to force a peace agreement.
Judea and Samaria and the Peace Process.
Netanyahu is guided by two principals namely, 1) never make an offer and 2) don’t start a fire, a diplomatic one, that is. The Right in Israel wants him to be more aggressive.
Though there was considerable pressure on him to draw a map or abandon settlements, he refrained. As for the second principle, he refuses to demand Israel’s rights to Judea and Samaria and prefers to stress our security needs there. The present Gaza conflict has greatly strengthened his hand in this. He refuses to extend Israeli law to Area C or even to Gush Etzion, a settlement area near the green line and Jerusalem. Doing such things would bring the wrath of the international community down on his head. He prefers to quietly go about building here and building there, including in Jerusalem. Slow and steady wins the race.
In a recent speech, he redefined what he sees as the two-state solution. Put simply, for him, it does not result in a fully sovereign state for the Palestinians, nor in Israel giving up control over Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley.
After all, the status quo isn’t bad. Israel controls all of Area C, the Jordan Valley, and the eastern part of Jerusalem. She also controls the Holy Basin and the Temple Mount. What more could she want?
Recent polls show that 70% of Arab Jerusalemites want the area to remain in Israel. Look for Israel to start spending more money on the eastern part of Jerusalem in order to make her sovereignty there omnipresent and to ensure these Arabs will want to remain under Israeli sovereignty i.e, that the city will remain undivided.
Many Palestinians in Judea and Samaria are emigrating. (I believe about 20,000 per year.) My source believes, as I do, that Israel should encourage this emigration by keeping Judea and Samaria difficult for them. Netanyahu and Bennett think otherwise. Meanwhile Israel is winning the demographic battle. Her fertility rate is higher now than that of the Arabs.
Trade is blossoming, unemployment is low, the deficit is manageable, the economy is growing and investors are beating a path to her door. What can be bad?