- Former State Dept official: If Hezbollah provokes war with Israel, will be devastating for civilians
Aaron David Miller, a former State Department official who advised both Republican and Democratic Secretaries of State, warned on Thursday that another conflict between Israel and the Iranian-backed terrorist organization Hezbollah “remains a genuine possibility,” concluding: “If it comes, it will be devastating -- especially for the civilians on both sides caught in the middle.”
Miller, now a vice president at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, explained that since the previous conflict between the Shiite terror group and Israel in 2006, “Hezbollah is battle hardened, tested and trained in offensive operations in the Syrian civil war.” Voice of America reported in late April that Hezbollah has been developing new skills and capabilities while fighting to prop up Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, which could pose a challenge for Israel in a future war. VOA claimed that a Hezbollah commander recently told the outlet that “[i]n some ways, Syria is a dress rehearsal for our next war with Israel.”
Moreover, the terror group is engaged in an effort to build up its military infrastructure in southern Lebanon and, along with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, is working to establish a stronghold on the Syrian Golan Heights. Both are efforts aimed at enhancing Hezbollah’s capacity to strike at Israel. Miller wrote that Hezbollah “is thought by some to be planning incursions across the border with a view to holding territory, even attacking Israeli towns.”
In a New York Times article last May, Israeli military officials detailed how Hezbollah has “moved most of its military infrastructure” in and around Shiite villages, which “amounts to using the civilians as a human shield.” A senior military official stated that Lebanese civilians are “living in a military compound.” He told the Times: “We will hit Hezbollah hard, while making every effort to limit civilian casualties as much as we can…We do not intend to stand by helplessly in the face of rocket attacks.” Like Miller, Israeli officials have also warned that in a future conflict, there will most likely be high civilian casualties because of Hezbollah’s intentional military integration inside civilian areas. Israel’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Major General Yair Golan, told reporters in April that the next war with Hezbollah will be a “full-scale” war that causes “devastating” damage to Lebanon. He explained that there was no other way to neutralize Hezbollah’s infrastructure and remove the threat. Times of Israel journalist Avi Issacharoff reported in November that Israeli officials believe Hezbollah has stockpiled around 150,000 rockets, “including a number of long range Iranian-made missiles capable of striking Israeli cities from north to south.”
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced on Thursday that an international conference to discuss possible parameters for a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will be held on June 3 in Paris. A previously planned conference for May 30 was scrapped when Secretary of State John Kerry said that he could not attend.
“We reviewed again the position concerning France’s initiative to hold a ministerial-level meeting in Paris to relaunch the Middle East peace process,” Ayrault told reporters. He added that he foresaw the possibility “for Israel and the Palestinians to resume [talks] on the basis of a two-state solution.”
Noting that Israel had previously made peace with Egypt and Jordan as the result of direct, bilateral negotiations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that “any other attempt only makes peace more remote and gives the Palestinians an escape hatch to avoid confronting the root of the conflict which is non-recognition of the State of Israel.”
“They simply avoid negotiating with us as part of their desire to avoid resolving the root of the conflict, which is recognizing the national state of the Jewish People, i.e. the State of Israel,” Netanyahu added.
The Israeli premier also criticized France for supporting a recent UNESCO resolution that ignored centuries-old Jewish ties to the Temple Mount, adding that this “[cast] a shadow on the fairness of any forum that France tries to convene.” French President Francois Hollande said last week that his government’s support for the resolution was a “misunderstanding,” and pledged not back a similar initiative in the future.
Despite the recent cabinet shuffle, with Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman expected to replace Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who announced his resignation today, the Israeli government says it’s still committed to a two-state solution.
However, Palestinian leaders have a history of rejecting or undermining direct talks with Israel.
Abbas last month rejected in invitation by Netanyahu to meet and discuss ongoing Palestinian incitement against Israel. In March he refused to consider a new American peace proposal made to him by Vice-President Joe Biden.
In 2008, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert presented Abbas with a proposal for a peace agreement, which Abbas rejected. In an interview a year later, Abbas said he refused the offer because “the gaps were wide.” (Abbas again admitted his rejection of Olmert’s offer last year.)
In March 2014, Israel accepted Secretary of State John Kerry’s framework for continued peace negotiations and agreed to proceed on the basis of it, while Abbas rejected it and the next month formed a unity government with the Iran-backed terror organization Hamas.
In September 2015, Netanyahu stated that he was willing to restart talks at anytime without preconditions. The chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, responded by calling Netanyahu’s bid a “PR stunt” and rejected the offer.
The French initiative comes as the Palestinian Authority is under increased scrutiny for paying salaries to convicted terrorists and engaging in incitement to violence, raising questions about its commitment to peaceful coexistence with Israel.
Continued and sometimes violent infighting, an inability to establish a single government, and ongoing corruption also raise questions as to whether the Palestinian Authority is capable of running a state. (via TheTower.org)
When Coldplay releases a new music video, the music world takes note. And the British band’s latest release for new single “Up&Up” is a mesmerizing montage of creative composites that has music fans and reviewers alike already calling for a Grammy Award. The video, released on May 16, is directed by two 30-year-old Israelis Vania Heymann and Gal Muggia. Heymann’s name has been tied to some of the most creative videos in the past few years including the interactive music video for the Bob Dylan song “Like a Rolling Stone” and the Heavy Bubbles prank video for SodaStream. The Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design graduate now lives in New York. Muggia, who lives in Tel Aviv, has made clips for musicians such as Ester Rada, Dudu Tassa and Cohen@Mushon. “Coldplay’s new “Up&Up” video harnesses a childlike wonder. It’s a surreal adventure filled with eagles flying underwater, cars circling Saturn’s rings and volcanoes spewing popcorn. The clip, co-directed by Vania Heymann and Gal Muggia, also depicts the band members as giants walking among mountains and clouds,” raves Rolling Stone. “This is one of the most creative music videos I’ve watched,” writes a YouTube user. “And the Grammy for the best music video goes to…..,” writes another, who scored nearly 2,000 likes for his comment. “I think it’s one of the best videos people have made,” the band’s lead vocalist Chris Martin said on the internet radio station Beats 1. “I just saw it right now, and I was like, ‘I can’t believe that’s our video.’ If that were someone else’s video, I’d be so jealous.” In February, Coldplay turned to Israeli design team Yaron Yashinski Studio for animation for its mystical atmosphere of Indian culture in the band’s “Hymn for the Weekend” video. (via Israel21c)