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Jerusalem still does not get it!

President Bush and his administration have outflanked israel from the Right in their hawkish battle against terrorism. During his March 30, 2002 press conference in Crawford Texas, the President repeated five times his support of “Israel’s right to defend itself,” refraining from any explicit or implicit arm-twisting of Israel. In fact, for the first time since Sept. 11, 2001, he has publicly lumped together the US war on Islamic terrorism and Israel’s war on Palestinian terrorism. VP Cheney and Secretary of Defense, Rumsfeld, have often expressed their belief that passivity in face of threats breeds more violence. They support the principle of unilateral – rather than multilateral – military actions in face of threats (ballistic missiles or terrorism), even if the US receives little or no support from its allies. They have frequently heralded the 1981 Israeli bombing of Iraq’s nuclear reactor in Baghdad, as a role-model for unilateral and justifiable military actions. Both consider Arafat and the PLO a destabilizing and a treacherous factor fueling terror and supporting Iraq, Iran and other terrorist regimes. The Administration’s policy toward Israel has been at odds with the entrenched bureaucracy of the Department of State and the traditional editorial policies of the New York Times and the Washington Post.

However, Israel’s inconsistency and indecisiveness, in the battle against terrorism, and in defining its strategic goal (eradication of the PA/PLO/HAMAS infrastructure? separation? autonomy? annexation? Palestinian state?), and the open door left to resumed negotiation with the PA/PLO (terrorists? partners? systematic violators of commitments? murderers? negotiators? hate-mongers?) have made it difficult for President Bush to sustain his positive attitudes. Moreover, the lack of clarity on the part of Israel, has nurtured the counter-productive Zini Mission, which has constituted a major departure from President Bush’s coherent policy of: No Negotiation With Terrorists, No Distinction Between Terrorists And Those Who Harbor Terrorists, and You’re Either With Us Or Against Us In The Fight Against Terrorism!

Rather than implementing a “Six Day War” style swift tactic, Israel seems to have chosen the surgical approach, in order to minimize collateral damage. However, the longer the Israeli war on PA/PLO terrorism, the deeper the impact of the simplistic media coverage, which highlights the pain of the Palestinian population, while minimizing the critical role/responsibility of Palestinian terrorism and the unprecedented scope of its Jewish victims. As the war on Arafat’s, and Arafat-harbored, terrorists lingers on, the speedier the erosion of Israel’s image as The Fastest and The Most Decent Gun In Town (“Six Day War”, Entebbe’s “Jonathan Operation”, the bombing of Iraq’s nuclear reactor, etc.). The more cautious and protracted is the Israeli war on Palestinian terrorists, the more exposed is the Texan President to pressures by former President Bush, Jim Baker, Brent Scowcroft, Secretary of State Powell, major oil companies, Saudi Arabia, West European countries and the UN. So far, the President has adhered to his principled-driven and strategically-motivated policy toward Israel. However, one should recall that the setback to President Reagan’s policy on Israel was accelerated as the 1982/3 war in Lebanon was lingering on. A protracted war of attrition undermines Israel’s self-confidence and posture of deterrence, Israel’s economy and Israel’s personal and national security. It undercuts Israel’s strategic alliance with the US, weakens Israel’s friends and emboldens Israel’s foes and critics.

Never has the Washington political arena been as supportive of a comprehensive swift military campaign to completely obliterate the PA/PLO/Hamas political and terrorist infrastructure, as it has been since 9/11. President Bush has repeatedly echoed a key element of his war on Islamic terrorism: “Any regime that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the USA as a hostile regime.” He has recently added that the Al-Aqsa Brigades, which are led by Arafat, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which are harbored by Arafat, are terrorist organizations. The obvious conclusion has been that Arafat/PA/PLO should be regarded by the USA as a hostile regime. Bush is not ready, yet, to pronounce such a conclusion publicly, partly because Palestinian terrorism is not the overriding priority for the USA (which it is for Israel). But, Israel has disappointed Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, awaiting an explicit Green Light from the “Washington Nanny.” Israel is mistaking Green Light for Yellow/Red Light.

Moreover, Israel is currently misinterpreting a glimpse of pressure to be a brutal pressure. Thus, when Clinton exerted pressure on Netanyahu, he conducted a smear campaign to tarnish Netanyahu’s reputation, he threatened to cut foreign aid, to suspend joint military exercises and to cut bi-national projects. When the Bush/Baker team pressured Shamir, they suspended $400MN loan guarantees, denied Israel $10BN loan guarantees, froze a series of legislation which were supposed to expand US-Israel strategic cooperation, brutally criticized AIPAC and viciously attacked Shamir via malicious leaks and briefings. When Reagan pressured Begin following the 1981 bombing of Iraq’s nuclear reactor, he suspended the supply of aircraft and tanks for six months. When Ford pressured Rabin in order to produce an Israeli withdrawal from critical passes in Sinai, he conducted a reassessment process (marshalling the support of US “elite” media), designed to reduce the scope of US-Israel relations. When the Truman/Marshall team pressured Ben-Gurion to postpone the 1948 Declaration of Independence, they imposed an arms embargo on the region (while Britain shipped arms to Jordan and Iraq), threatened to alter the legal status of Jewish contributions to Jewish causes overseas, and suggested to Ben-Gurion that a declaration of independence would trigger a war, which would cause a second Jewish holocaust within less than a decade. That’s pressure!

However, when President Bush “pressures” Sharon he states that Israel’s military operation against Palestinian terrorism is not helpful, and requests that the operation be suspended until the Iraqi Chapter is over. No sanctions, no arm-twisting, no suspension of projects and no ugly psychological warfare. that’s pressure?

Never has the USA been as sensitive to the mutuality of the Islamic terrorism threat to the USA and to the Jewish State, as has been the case since 9/11. Never has the public standing, in the USA, of Muslims, Arabs and Palestinians been as low as it has been since the WTC and Pentagon Islamic terrorism. Never has Israel’s predicament benefited from such a sympathetic all American combination of a President, Vice President, Defense Secretary, National Security Advisor, Congress and most importantly, the American public. Never has the USA gone through such a drastic and a hawkish mental, operational, legal and legislative reassessment of its counter-terrorist effort, as it has since losing almost 3,000 persons to Islamic terrorists.

But, the irresolute and vacillating Israel of Oslo-Wye-Camp David-Mitchell-Tenet-Zini is yet to leverage the potential stored in post-9/11 USA. Something is flawed in the strategic thinking of a government, which does not conduct a DRASTIC change of course (away from Oslo/PA/PLO) in response to a DRAMATIC American reassessment and to the murder of 700 Israelis (since the Oslo Accords were concluded), which is equal proportionally to the murder of 35,000 Americans!




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The Abraham Accords – the US, Arab interests and Israel

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan believe that the expansion of the Abraham Accords, the enhancement of Israel-Saudi defense and commercial cooperation and the conclusion of an Israel-Saudi Arabia peace accord are preconditioned upon major Israeli concessions to the Palestinian Authority.

Is such a belief consistent with Middle East reality?

Arab interests

*The signing of the Abraham Accords, and the role played by Saudi Arabia as a critical engine of the accords, were driven by the national security, economic and diplomatic interests of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and the Sudan.

*The Arab interest in peace accords with Israel was not triggered by the realization that the Jewish State was genuinely seeking peaceful-coexistence, nor by a departure from the fundamental tenets of Islam. It was motivated by the assessment that critical concerns of the respective Arab countries would be effectively-served by Israel’s advanced military (Qualitative Military Edge), technological and diplomatic capabilities in the face of mutual and lethal enemies, such as Iran’s Ayatollahs and Muslim Brotherhood terrorism.

*Saudi Arabia and the six Arab peace partners of Israel (including Egypt and Jordan) are aware that the Middle East resembles a volcano, which occasionally releases explosive lava – domestically and/or regionally – in an unpredictable manner, as evidenced by the 1,400-year-old stormy intra-Arab/Muslim relations, and recently demonstrated by the Arab Tsunami, which erupted in 2011 and still rages.

They wish to minimize the impact of rogue regimes, and therefore are apprehensive about the nature of the proposed Palestinian state, in view of the rogue Palestinian inter-Arab track record, which has transformed Palestinians into an intra-Arab role model of subversion, terrorism, treachery and ingratitude.

*They are anxious about the erosion of the US posture of deterrence, which is their most critical component of national security, and alarmed about the 43-year-old US diplomatic option toward Iran’s Ayatollahs, which has bolstered the Ayatollahs’ terroristic, drug trafficking and ballistic capabilities. They are also concerned about the US’ embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the largest Sunni terrorist entity with religious, educational, welfare and political branches. And, they are aware of the ineffectiveness of NATO (No Action Talk Only?), the European vacillation, and the vulnerability of all other Arab countries.

Israel’s role

*Saudi Arabia and the Arab partners to peace accords with Israel feel the machetes of the Ayatollahs and the Moslem Brotherhood at their throats. They consider Israel as the most reliable “life insurance agent” in the region.  They view Israel as the most effective US force-multiplier in the Middle East, and appreciate Israel’s proven posture of deterrence; flexing its military muscles against Iran’s Ayatollahs in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran itself and against Palestinian and Hezbollah terrorism. They respect Israel’s unique counter-terrorism intelligence and training capabilities, and its game-changing military and counter-terrorism battle tactics and technologies.

*The Arab view of Israel as a reliable partner on “a rainy day” has been bolstered by Israel’s willingness to defy US pressure, when it comes to Israel’s most critical national security and historic credos (e.g., Iran, Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria).  In addition, Saudi Arabia and Israel’s peace-partners aim to leverage Israel’s good-standing among most Americans – and therefore among most Senators and House Representatives – as a venue to enhance their military, commercial and diplomatic ties with the US.

*Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are preoccupied with the challenge of economic diversification, realizing that they are overly-reliant on oil and natural gas, which are exposed to price-volatility, depletion and could be replaced by emerging cleaner and more cost-effective energy.

Thus, they consider Israel’s ground-breaking technologies as a most effective vehicle to diversify their economy, create more jobs in non-energy sectors, and establish a base for alternative sources of national income, while bolstering homeland and national security.

*The Abraham Accords – as well as Israel’s peace accords with Egypt and Jordan – and the unprecedented expansion of defense and commercial cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Israel, demonstrate that critical Arab national security interests may supersede fundamental tenets of Islam, such as the 1,400-year-old rejection of any “infidel” sovereignty in “the abode of Islam.”  Moreover, critical national security interests may lead to a dramatic moderation of the (Arab) education system, which is the most authentic reflection of one’s vision and policies.

Thus, contrary to the Palestinian Authority, the United Arab Emirates has uprooted hate-education curriculum, replacing it with pro-Israel/Jewish curriculum.

Abraham Accords’ durability

*The success of the Abraham Accords was a result of avoiding the systematic mistakes committed by the US State Department. The latter has produced a litany of failed peace proposals, centered on the Palestinian issue, while the Abraham accords bypassed the Palestinian issue, avoiding a Palestinian veto, and focusing on Arab interests. Therefore, the durability of the Abraham Accords depends on the interests of the respective Arab countries, and not on the Palestinian issue, which is not a top priority for any Arab country.

*The durability of the Abraham Accords depends on the stability of the individual Arab countries and the Middle East at-large.

*The Abraham Accord have yielded initial and unprecedented signs of moderation, modernity and peaceful coexistence, which requires the US to support the respective pro-US Arab regimes, rather than pressuring them (e.g., Saudi Arabia and the UAE).

*However, one should not ignore the grave threats to the durability of the accords, posed by the volcanic nature of the unstable, highly-fragmented, unpredictable, violently intolerant, non-democratic and tenuous Middle East (as related to intra-Arab relations!).  These inherent threats would be dramatically alleviated by a resolute US support.

*A major threat to the Abraham Accord is the tenuous nature of most Arab regimes in the Middle East, which yields tenuous policies and tenuous accords. For example, in addition to the Arab Tsunami of 2010 (which is still raging on the Arab Street), non-ballot regime-change occurred (with a dramatic change of policy) in Egypt (2013, 2012, 1952), Iran (1979, 1953), Iraq (2003, 1968, 1963-twice, 1958), Libya (2011, 1969), Yemen (a civil war since the ’90s, 1990, 1962), etc.

*Regional stability, the Abraham Accords and US interests would be undermined by the proposed Palestinian state west of the Jordan River (bearing in mind the intra-Arab Palestinian track record). It would topple the pro-US Hashemite regime east of the River; transforming Jordan into another platform of regional and global Islamic terrorism, similar to Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen; triggering a domino scenario, which would threaten every pro-US Arab oil-producing country in the Arabian Peninsula; yielding a robust tailwind to Iran’s Ayatollahs, Russia and China and a major headwind to the US.

*While Middle East reality defines policies and accords as variable components of national security, the topography and geography of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and the Golan Heights are fixed components of Israel’s minimal security requirements in the reality of the non-Western Middle East. Israel’s fixed components of national security have secured its survival, and have dramatically enhanced its posture of deterrence. They transformed the Jewish State into a unique force and dollar multiplier for the US.

*The more durable the Abraham Accords and the more robust Israel’s posture of deterrence, the more stable the pro-US Arab regimes and the Middle East at-large; the more deterred are anti-US rogue regimes; the less potent are Middle Eastern epicenters of anti-US terrorism and drug trafficking; the more bolstered is the US global posture and the weaker is the posture of the US’ enemies and adversaries.

*Would the Arab regimes of the Abraham Accords precondition their critical ties with Israel upon Israeli concessions to the Palestinians, which they view as a rogue element? Would they sacrifice their national security and economic interests on the altar of the Palestinian issue? Would they cut off their nose to spite their face?

The fact that these Arab regimes concluded the Abraham Accords without preconditioning it upon Israeli concessions to the Palestinians, and that they limit their support of the Palestinians to talk, rather than walk, provides an answer to these three questions.

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