Saturday, January 8, 2011

Jerusalem Watch

Israel loses international support while its enemies gear up for war.

Earlier this week, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera announced that his country officially recognizes an independent Palestinian state. Uruguay intends to do the same and will formally announce its recognition in March. Chile’s recent action brings the total number of nations that recognize a Palestinian state to 107.

Last Friday, Palestinian Authority (pa) President Mahmoud Abbas visited Brazil to participate in the groundbreaking ceremony of the first Palestinian Embassy in the Americas. Reuters reported, “Palestinian authorities are hoping for a diplomatic domino effect to give international validity to their claim for a state in all of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”
Palestinian negotiator, Nabil Shaath, made it clear the pa hopes Europe will follow suit: “In addition to the Latin American countries’ recognition of a Palestinian state, we expect that European countries would carry out similar actions beginning with promoting the diplomatic Palestinian representations in those countries to the level of embassies.” Read here to see how their strategy is working.
Israel is also losing support from a nation closer to home.
A survey conducted by the Metropol Educational Institution found that 63 percent of Turks believe Turkey’s ties with Israel should be severed. Turkey was once Israel’s strongest ally in the Middle East. Now, according to the poll, Israel is the second most dangerous threat to Turkey’s sovereignty (the United States is first).
Earlier this week, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman blamed the soured relationship on the Turks and refused to let Israel be a “punching bag.”
Invitation for the EU
On Wednesday, eu High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton called on Israel to open up Gaza’s borders for “reconstruction and economic recovery,” Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports.
In response, Israeli fm Avigdor Lieberman stated, “If you want to bring about an end to the siege of the Gaza Strip, you have to take responsibility and set a strong, genuine and effective force to stop weapons smuggling.”
Although Ashton later denied that the eu is seriously considering sending such a European force into Gaza, this trend for Israel to reach out for European assistance is being watched closely by the Trumpet.
Eventually, the Europeans will indeed have troops on the ground within Israel. Lieberman’s comments reveal that Israel is already open to the idea.
Hezbollah and Hamas stockpile rockets
On Sunday, Norway’s Aftenposten newspaper published a WikiLeaks cable revealing Hezbollah’s capability to hit Israel with up to 600 rockets per day—for 70 days straight.
The Jerusalem Post reports, “Hezbollah … has 40,000 missiles as well as a number of Iranian-made Ababil unmanned aerial vehicles that have a range of 150 kilometers and can be loaded with explosives to bomb strategic targets in Israel.”
By way of comparison, in 1996, during Operation Grapes of Wrath, Hezbollah launched 55 rockets per day at Israel. Ten years later, during the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah fired a total of 4,000 rockets at Israel over a period of 31 days, an average of 130 rockets per day.
Judging by the size of Hezbollah’s arsenal at present, the next clash with the Israelis could be absolutely debilitating for northern Israel.
Hezbollah isn’t the only Iranian proxy terrorist group rearming.
Last week, the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) reported that Iran smuggled about 1,000 mortar shells, hundreds of short-range rockets and dozens of advanced anti-tank missiles into Gaza during 2010.
The smuggling of weapons into Gaza has undermined Israel’s defeat of Hamas in Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009. Hamas has increased the number of missiles it is lobbing into Israel in recent weeks, which has some wondering if another round of fighting is coming. idf Chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi summed up the situation by calling it “fragile and explosive.”
Although the numbers of rockets fired in the last two years have been significantly less than the number of rockets fired in 2008, before Operation Cast Lead, they still reveal an increase in Hamas’s boldness and a decrease in Israel’s level of deterrence.
According to the idf, Hamas has already shot 10 rockets and mortar shells in the first week of 2011.