Crossing the Line – TWTW – 25 February 2018

Shalom all,

Multi-Front Planning for War

The infiltration of an Iranian drone into Israeli airspace two weeks ago, along with its consequent events, is a definitive event marking a shift in Iranian policy from “covert” intervention against Israel by its proxies to “direct” intervention by itself. Iran crossed the line, prompting an immediate and severe Israeli response.

On the strategic level, Iran’s enemyship toward Israel is part and parcel of its desire to achieve regional hegemony and reestablish the Islamic caliphate. Iran has been at the forefront of leading the “anti-Israel resistance axis”, which includes the Hezbollah in Lebanon, and military proxies all over the Middle East, including a substantial military presence in war-torn Syria. Together with Russia’s intervention, the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad was strengthened. The substantial presence of Iranian forces in Syria enabled Iran to achieve its goal of establishing a “Shiite Crescent”, comprising Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. In addition to personnel, Iran set up military bases and airports in Syria.

It would appear that Iran’s presence in Syria has two basic objects: the stabilization of Assad’s regime and the furtherance of the anti-Israel resistance axis, uniting the various military forces in the different Middle East countries which serve as Iranian proxies into a single military force, under Iranian leadership.

The situation is being carefully watched by Israel, which acts when necessary to protect our country and our citizenry, while making plans for a multi-front war. No matter how we look at it, the next war with Lebanon, Syria and Gaza will be ugly.

Still Talking About a Middle-East Peace Plan

The Security Council of that infamous UN-organization once again devoted its time to discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but to no avail. The United States is still waving the potential peace plan that is supposedly being formulated by Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of President Trump. One would have to ask “Why?”

Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the “Palestinian” Authority is pushing for multilateral negotiations headed up by Russia, instead of the U.S. But, he has made it as clear as can be that the “PA” does not recognize Israel’s legitimacy – in any borders. So, why should anyone give any credence to his feigned claimed of wanting to establish any kind of peace with Israel? Those who follow what is happening on the “Palestinian” streets recognize that Abbas is in a constant  struggle with the Hamas terrorist organization for control of the PA. His rhetoric is intended to win the public opinion of his people by demonstrating that his hatred of Israel is greater than the hatred of Hamas. But, he is careful not to force a confrontation between himself and Hamas, which could result in his losing his position, power and privileges. Playing the game and making the effort, although it is doomed to failure, can work to Iran’s further encouragement of its Hamas proxy and trigger another Gaza War. It could also trigger a war with the Hezbollah, another Iranian proxy, only this time across the borders of both Lebanon and Syria.

As also noted above, with the Netanyahu government facing the possibility of collapse because of the investigations instituted against him, this is not a good time for the U.S. to try to push for renewed peace talks – particularly since Abbas declared that Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel marked the death knell of the peace process. So, once again, we need to ask the question why would anyone seriously consider a new peace plan, which would undoubtedly require making more concessions to the “Palestinians”? At this point in history, with enemies facing us from the north, the northeast, the further east and the south, making any concessions to the PA would not endear Netanyahu to either his colleagues or his constituents.

So, that leaves the peace-plan push in the hands of Mr. Kushner and his father-in-law, President Trump. The latter, being a business man, is still bent on dreaming the impossible dream to make the deal of the century, or the millenium. He wants to succeed where others have failed, even though the likelihood of success is dim to non-existent. But, it has become “tradition” – to do what his predecessors have done and to make the effort, because that’s what he is expected to do. For the time being, the wisest thing would be for Mr. Trump to put his proposed peace plan on hold, indefinitely.

When will foreign politicians stop playing politics with Israel’s future? Maybe when they come to know that “There is none like the God of Jeshurun” (another name for Israel), in Whom Israel takes refuge and Who will drive out her enemies (Deuteronomy 33:26-27).

“Cigar Gate” – Is the Netanyahu Era over?

The major focus of events this past week was the two new criminal investigations that were opened against Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. These follow the first investigation where he was believed to have improperly received gifts of expensive cigars from a billionaire. One of those cases is looking into the ties between government officials and the Bezeq tele-com giant and the granting of “governmental favors” in exchange for getting more favorable coverage of Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, on a news website owned by the controlling shareholder of Bezeq.

The other case involved a suspected offer, made by another confidant of Netanyahu, to a former judge in exchange for her favorably closing out a pending criminal case (not against him).

This latest bombshell comes only a week after the police recommended that the Prime Minister be indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in two corruption cases. When that recommendation was released, Netanyahu was defiant and determined to continue to lead the country until those legal matters were resolved in his favor. He received support from his own party (Likud) and from various coalition partners, who were willing to stand by him, while adopting a wait-and-see approach whether the Attorney General would make a decision whether or not to indict the Prime Minister.

The latest investigations against Netanyahu caused political pundits to question whether his coalition government is now facing the beginning of the end of its rule. Still, he has the continuing support of the Likud party and from other, leading members of his coalition, who remain faithful and are not willing to abandon ship, trusting that their captain will be able to repair the damage and see it safely into port. At this point, there are four potential criminal matters against the Prime Minister that the police are investigating – Files 1000 to 4000. Culture and Sport Minister, Miri Regev, made a statement in defense of the Prime Minister. She began her statement by mocking the four pending investigations: “I have to update you, just now Case 7000 has been published with serious allegations against teacher Shoshana, a kindergarten teacher who apparently gave Netanyahu an extra cookie at the end of the kindergarten. At this moment, researchers are investigating if that is the reason that she is still a kindergarten teacher to this day. Tomorrow, a photograph of Netanyahu with the cookie will be published in all the newspapers.” Some things simply need to be put into perspective.

In light of the present situation, where Netanyahu’s political enemies are chomping at the bit, looking for the collapse of the government, what are the most realistic possibilities?

First, the government could fall if one or more coalition partners quits, leaving the coalition without a majority. In that instance, new elections would be called and would most likely be held as quickly as the system will allow. Avi Gabbay, the head of the Zionist Union, the second largest political party in the Knesset, in a letter sent to party members, said that “the Netanyahu era is over. We must prepare for an election soon.”

A second possibility is that the Likud led coalition remains in power, but without Netanyahu, who would be replaced. Yair Lapid, the head of the Opposition, has suggested that the Prime Minister “step aside” or take a “leave of absence” until the air is cleared regarding the criminal investigations against him, even if new elections are not held.

The third possibility is also very realistic, namely, that the great expectations of the opposition parties and the efforts of the media to discredit Netanyahu and his wife, fail, and he remains in office. This is a viable option, given the present security situation that is fragile enough to explode, whether intentionally or unintentionally. An eye-opening and thought-provoking article by Rabbi Prof. Dov. Fischer is worth a few minutes read.

If, or stated more pragmatically, when, the next military conflict erupts, natural efforts towards self-preservation kick in, causing political enemies to join forces until the crisis is over.

It should be noted, there is no one within the Likud who is willing to step up and challenge Netanyahu’s leadership, a move which could split the party faithful, jeopardizing their own political future. The legal system here will make the final determination regarding the matters that the Prime Minister needs to deal with, matters that undoubtedly weigh heavy on his mind, in addition to his running the country.

“And the dread of God was on all the kingdoms of the lands when they heard that the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel” (2 Chronicles 20:29)

“Have a long life, peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have.” (1 Samuel 25:6)

And so, we begin a new week.

Bless, be blessed and be a blessing.

Marvin

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