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Leslie Susser
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Strains of an Arab spring

Israel must tread carefully to protect Egypt peace pact

WorldPublished: 26 August 2011

JERUSALEM – Last week’s multifront Palestinian terrorist attack along the Egyptian-Israeli border highlighted two major new challenges to Israel’s national security.

First is the breakdown of Egyptian central authority in the Sinai Peninsula, which has created fertile ground for terrorism against Israel. Complicating matters further is a heightened sensitivity in post-Mubarak Egypt to Israeli retaliation, especially if it entails action in territory nominally controlled by Egypt.

If not carefully managed, the twin challenges could bring the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, a cornerstone of regional stability for over three decades, into question, say Israeli analysts.


With protests, Israelis are seeking the revival of welfare state

WorldPublished: 05 August 2011

JERUSALEM – The wave of protests sweeping Israel is about much more than the lack of affordable housing: It’s a grass-roots demand for the major redistribution of the nation’s wealth.

In social terms, protesters are calling for a more caring government attuned to the needs of young, middle-class citizens who serve in the army, pay heavy taxes and provide the engine driving the country’s burgeoning economy.

In economic terms, it is a call for the reversal of nearly three decades of fiscal conservativism at the expense of social services such as education, health and welfare, as well as an appeal against eroding salaries and rising prices.


Pressure mounts on Palestinians to abandon U.N. statehood gambit

WorldPublished: 24 June 2011

JERUSALEM – The pressure on Mahmoud Abbas to back down from plans to seek recognition of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations in September is intensifying.

Squeezed by a combination of concerted American pressure and intense Israeli diplomacy, some top Palestinian leaders are urging the Palestinian Authority’s president to drop his September plan.

Abbas, however, says he still intends to go ahead with the U.N. move, unless key international players can get serious peace talks going before then.


Ahead of Palestinian U.N. gambit, Europe is in play

WorldPublished: 10 June 2011

JERUSALEM – It was a sign that ties between the Obama and Netanyahu administrations remain strong despite the apparent tensions two weeks ago when the two leaders met at the White House.

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton shot down a French proposal for renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that had put the Israeli leader in a quandary.

If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had accepted the French proposal, which included a settlement freeze, his right-leaning coalition partners might have bolted the government. If he refused, it would have made it seem as if he were the intransigent party in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations — a perilous position as France and other leading European states consider voting for Palestinian statehood at the United Nations in September.


Pushed by Goldstone, Israeli army embraces new ‘smart’ warfare

WorldPublished: 15 April 2011

JERUSALEM – Despite Israel’s rejection of the Goldstone report on the Gaza war a year and a half ago, the international criticism it engendered has led the Israel Defense Forces to make a number of significant changes in policy and doctrine.

And they’ll stay even though Richard Goldstone has recanted one of the most significant findings of his committee’s report — that Israel intentionally targeted civilians and may have perpetrated war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza.

Among the changes made by the IDF were modifying the way soldiers fight in urban areas, teaching relatively low-level combat officers nuances in the laws of war, attaching humanitarian liaison officers to active forces, and making media relations a priority.


Unrest in Syria may mean dangers and opportunities

WorldPublished: 01 April 2011

JERUSALEM – With the turmoil rocking the Middle East now threatening the regime in Syria, Israeli faces potentially grave dangers and huge opportunities.

The dangers are clear: The emergence of a more radical regime in Syria could mean a stronger Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis. Iran could get direct access to its allies in Lebanon through a Syrian regime that’s even friendlier toward Tehran. Syria’s huge stockpiles of missiles and chemical weapons could fall into the wrong hands. The unrest on Israel’s doorstep could spread to the west bank and to Jordan. Syrian President Bashar Assad’s more radical successors could use a conflict with Israel to build domestic legitimacy.

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Will Bibi go left or right?

WorldPublished: 18 March 2011

JERUSALEM – Israel is staring at a fork in the road, with potential disaster along either path.

On the path to the left lies a major Israeli peace initiative that deals with all the core issues under dispute with the Palestinians. On the path to the right lies more waiting, possibly with some kind of offer of an interim peace agreement with the Palestinians, until conditions are right for something more.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the man behind the wheel at this critical juncture, is expected to announce a new peace initiative within the next two months, and the battle over which path it will hew to is causing serious divisions within his cabinet.

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Settlers accusing Netanyahu government of imposing silent building freeze

WorldPublished: 04 March 2011

JERUSALEM – Although the 10-month moratorium on building in Jewish settlements in the West Bank was lifted last September, settler leaders complain that no construction is being allowed in the large urban areas and warn that a de facto freeze on all Jewish building in the West Bank is looming.

The settler leaders maintain that the Netanyahu administration is refusing to publish new tenders and that all current building is based on a limited number of permits issued years ago by previous governments.

“It’s like a pipeline into which no new water is being pumped,” Danny Dayan, chairman of the Yesha Council, the umbrella leadership of the setter movement, told JTA. “Water still comes out on the other side because there is still some inside. But it will soon dry up.”

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With Egypt in turmoil, Israel rethinks readiness for multi-front war

WorldPublished: 18 February 2011

JERUSALEM – Although it’s still far from clear how the uprising in Egypt is going to play out, the volatility there is already raising questions in Israel about the Jewish state’s readiness for a war on several fronts.

The optimistic view in Israel is that a wave of democracy will sweep the Middle East from Cairo to Tehran, making war in any form less likely.

The pessimists — there are many here — see an ascendant Islamic radicalism taking hold in Egypt and elsewhere, thus compounding the military threats facing Israel.

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Unrest in Egypt could lead to Israel’s worst nightmare

WorldPublished: 04 February 2011

JERUSALEM – For Israel, the popular uprising against the Mubarak regime raises the specter of its worst strategic nightmare: collapse of the peace treaty with Egypt, the cornerstone of its regional policy for the past three decades.

That is not the inevitable outcome of the unrest; a modified version of the Mubarak government could survive and retain the “cold peace” with Israel. But if, in a worst case scenario, democratic or Islamic forces were to come to power denouncing Israel and repudiating the peace deal, that could herald the resurrection of a major military threat on Israel’s southern border.

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