by John Glaser
The flare up of violence between Israel and Gaza looks like its about to escalate, with an Israeli airstrike today killing a Hamas commander and Israeli military leadership talking openly about the possibility of an expanded war on Gaza, possibly including a ground invasion.
This escalation occurs just days after widespread reports about newly reelected Obama mulling a grand bargain with Iran over its disputed nuclear program. Barbara Slavin and Laura Rozen at Al-Monitor reported on Monday that US officials told them Washington was considering offering a “more for more” deal with Iran, based on the fuel swap deal from Obama’s first term.
So what does Israel’s impending war on defenseless Gaza have to do with Iran diplomacy? Here’s a tweet from the Tehran bureau chief for the New York Times, Thomas Erdbrink:
Forget ANY #Iran-US talks if conflict in Gaza escalates
#Iran leaders can never be seen as talking to US, while its "eternal" ally Israel assassinates Iran's ideological allies
I suspect this point was not lost on the Israeli leadership, either. So, is Netanyahu knowingly escalating military tensions in order to avoid a successful diplomatic overture? I’m speculating, but it isn’t far fetched. We know from extensive reporting, mainly in Israeli media, that in 2010 – just as President Obama requested a freeze on Jewish settlements in the West Bank with the aim of resuming peace talks – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to provoke Iran into a war with Israel that would eventually drag in the United States.
It reminds me of what former CIA Middle East analyst Paul Pillar referred to this week as “Netanyahu’s tension-stoking brinksmanship: to divert attention from continued Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory and inaction on the festering Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” “[T]he Iran issue,” Pillar has previously written, provides a “distraction” from international “attention to the Palestinians’ lack of popular sovereignty.” Now the situation seems reversed: Israel is escalating war with Gaza to maintain deadlock with their favorite scapegoat, Iran.
Israel, lest we forget, instigated this resumption of missile exchanges last week when two Palestinian civilians were shot and killed and Israeli tanks intruded into Gaza, prompting Gaza militants to respond by targeting Israeli soldiers, which then gave Israel an excuse to unleash successive airstrikes. And Israel had numerous chances to pacify the situation, considering Hamas publicly offered to establish a total ceasefire and Egypt appeared about to broker a truce between the two. Israel has intentionally inched towards escalation from the beginning. Are we to believe this isn’t strategic?
See original post at : Antiwar.com
Israel may be forced to agree to a ceasefire in Gaza
A possible refugee crisis of Gazans fleeing to Egypt and pressure from Washington may force the Israelis to the negotiating table and agree to a ceasefire in Gaza, Norman Finkelstein, activist and political scientist tells RT.
RT: Israel and its western allies maintain Israel is acting in self-defense, so is Hamas responsible for this crisis?
Norman Finkelstein: If you look at the sequence of events, there was a lull between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza up until November the 8th, on November 8th Israel killed a Palestinian child and there was some Palestinian retaliation, they blew up a tunnel injuring an Israeli soldier, and then subsequently they fired on an Israeli jeep, injuring 4 Israeli soldiers, then Israel killed two more Palestinian children and during the funeral of the two children who were killed Israel fired on the tent where the attendees at the funeral were present. Then the conflict escalated until November the 12th when there was a ceasefire negotiated and it seemed as if the ceasefire was taking hold, then Israel used the occasion of the ceasefire to assassinate what you might call the strong man of Gaza and also as the Israeli newspapers pointed out, Mr Jaabari who they killed was Israel’s enforcer in Gaza, those are not my words, they belong to the military correspondent for Hareetz, a leading Israeli newspaper.
RT: Why did Israel break that ceasefire and carry out the assassination at a very delicate time?
NF: Most of the speculation has been that it has to do with upcoming elections in Israel, that was a factor but I think it’s a minor factor, the basic fact is, is that Israel has suffered a sequence of foreign policy debacles, they tried to orchestrate an attack on Iran and failed.Mr. Netanyahu went to the UN and smuggled in a bomb, the nuclear bomb that Iran supposedly has and he held up the bomb for the general assembly and he was seen quite correctly to be a maniac. Then there was Hezbollah flying a drone weapon near Damona, there was the fact that Qatar’s head of state visited Gaza, there was the fact that Erdogan of Turkey was saying he was also going to go to Gaza and their own puppets, the puppet regime they established in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority, even their puppets were getting uppity and were threatening to go to the UN and ask for observer status, and they said Israel wouldn’t be able to impose sanctions on them because they are doing Israel’s dirty work on the west bank. So things have got out of control and Israel said, when it launched its latest assault on Gaza, they said we have to restore our deterrence capability, that is restore the Arab’s world fear of us, but it had very little to do with trying to restore Gaza’s fear of Israel. Their main concern was the natives were getting restless, the Arabs were getting too uppity, the Muslims were getting too uppity and it was time to put on another display of Israel’s power to murder.
RT:You say things are getting out of control, just how bad could this situation become, not just between Israel and Palestine but also for the region as a whole?
NF:Actually I’m skeptical this current situation will escalate, we have to bear in mind that Turkey is now doing the US’s dirty work in Syria, and they are going to be incensed that as they carry on their work in Syria, it’s going to be said they care more about the Syrians than the people of Gaza. Turkey doesn’t want that to be said, so Turkey will be on the phone to Washington, meanwhile Egypt doesn’t want a mass influx of Gazans into Egypt if Israel attacks. On the other hand Egypt can’t seal the gates of Gaza like Mubarak did, so they’re going to be on the phone to Washington. In short, I think pressures is going to be brought to bear on Washington and then on Israel to agree a ceasefire.