Iran’s strategy to destabilize W. Bank enters crucial stage

Is Iran directly involved, or is just financially supporting Hamas’s instigation of an uprising within the disputed territories in the West Bank?

December 20, 2018 22:19
A Palestinian uses a sling to hurl stones during clashes with Israeli troops near the Jewish settlem

A Palestinian uses a sling to hurl stones during clashes with Israeli troops near the Jewish settlement of Beit El, near Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank December 14, 2018. . (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)


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Is this the start of the long anticipated Third Intifada?

According to The Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh writing for the Gatestone Institute, “Hamas (is) openly working and encouraging the eruption of a new anti-Israel uprising in the West Bank.”

Will it lead to a replay of Hamas’s Gaza putsch of 2007, where Hamas violently overthrew President Abbas, collapsing his Palestinian Authority rule in the Gaza Strip?

Will it result in an Islamist foundation in the West Bank, with missiles a stone’s throw from Tel Aviv and Ben-Gurion Airport? The geopolitical implications of that eventuality for the Untied States and the region are huge.

Is Iran directly involved, or is just financially supporting Hamas’s instigation of an uprising within the disputed territories in the West Bank?

It is an open secret that Hamas has followed Iranian instructions in Gaza, best illustrated by an Al Monitor headline this week, “Will Iran ask Hamas to ignite Gaza front in support of Hezbollah?”

According to Daniel Levin of the Wilson Center, Iran supports Hamas geostrategically to “expand its regional influence”, and ideologically because both “view Israel as a usurper of Muslim lands and a threat to Islam.” Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar says that Iran is the “largest financial supporter of its military.”

Since Israel’s founding, its neighbors have repeatedly tried to throw its Jews into the sea. Until the1979 Iranian Revolution, this was primarily a Sunni dominated project.
Today, two Sunni Arab nations have peace treaties with Israel, albeit very cold ones, while Gulf States Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, and the UAE are openly speaking about Israel as a reality in the region.

From the Sunni perspective, their cooperation with Israel is primarily motivated by the need to contain the hegemonic aspirations of Iran, whose desire is to overthrow the conservative Gulf States, Egypt and Jordan, while conquering Mecca and Medina for Shi’ite Islam. Those Sunni nations know that a weakened and besieged Israel undermines their survival. Who could have imagined such a statement just a short time ago?

Iran has been methodically planning the destruction of Israel for decades. As the Washington Institute’s Ehud Yaari wrote, “The destruction of the Jewish State constitutes an important tenet of their devotion to Islam, reflecting a deep ideological conviction in the indispensability of annihilating the Zionist entity.”

Iran has made much progress recently in turning rhetoric into tangible gains in the Levant. President Bashar Assad is beholden to the Ayatollah and his Hezbollah henchmen for saving his genocidal regime.

Assad has allowed Iran to ethnically cleanse the Sunnis of southern Syria, and re-populated the border region facing Israel’s Golan Heights with Shi’ites from Lebanon, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Those Shi’ite settlers are being naturalized as Syrian citizens, undermining the worthless Russian guarantees to remove an Iranian presence on the Israeli frontier.

Iran is firmly entrenched in the north with Hezbollah in control of the Lebanese government, and the Lebanese Armed Force (LAF) unable or unwilling to confront them. It even allows Iran to fly weapons directly into Beirut–Rafic Hariri International Airport for Hezbollah. Somehow America pretends the LAF is still an independent entity, not one cowed by Hezbollah.

Iran has at its disposal a Hezbollah arsenal estimated at 150,000 missiles, many capable of hitting anywhere in Israel, along with many new military facilities scattered throughout Syria and Lebanon. This is a fait accompli that could only be undone with a major military operation that Israel is loath to attempt.

In the south, Hamas along with Palestinian Islamic Jihad is a constant source of problems for Israel, knowing that their existence is not threatened because Israel has no desire to re-conquer Gaza.

The Iranians’ next goal for their long-term strategy to destroy Israel is a complete destabilization of the West Bank with an eventual Hamas takeover. Hamas in Gaza may be a contained tiger, but what about Hamas in full control of the West Bank with billions in Iranian money and supplies? That largely explains Israel, Jordan, and America’s desire to prop up the corrupt and inept Palestinian Authority and its security services.

Every new round of violence in the West Bank is a victory for Iran’s long-term goal, creating the foundation for the rise of Hamas and fulfilling its strategy to encircle Israel, forcing it to fight repeated multi-front wars from Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank.

A new front on the West Bank would accelerate the Iranian beachhead in the Levant which, according to Yaakov Amidror. the former head of Israeli Military Intelligence, acts as a cover for Iran’s nuclear weapons program, creating a deterrence barrier against a preemptive strike on its nuclear program.

If this round of violence in the West Bank turns into a Third Intifada, a Palestinian civil war is bound to follow, with Iran the primary beneficiary.

Abbas is caught between a rock and a hard place. His PLO, Fatah and Palestinian Authority need to cooperate with the Israelis for their survival, but they also see their hold on power evaporating if they are not more radical than Hamas.

The well-meaning Jason Greenblatt must know that even if he has the most well thought-out and prudent plan that would help Israelis and Palestinians, the Palestinians are in no position nor have any interest in engaging with America.

America needs to use whatever remains of its influence to persuade Jordan and Egypt to lobby the PA to continue to work with Israeli security for its survival, and try to convince Qatar to use all of its influence to restrain Hamas in the West Bank.

The region cannot afford another civil war.

The author is the director of MEPIN™ (Middle East Political and Information Network™), and is a regular contributor to The Jerusalem Post and i24TV. MEPIN™ is a Middle East research analysis read by members of Congress, their foreign policy advisers, members of the Knesset, journalists, and organizational leaders.

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