Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Analyst: Israel’s Next War Could Be Lebanon

by Jim Lobe, July 20, 2010

"While speculation over a possible Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities intensifies, at least one influential analyst is calling on Washington to focus more on the likelihood of a new war breaking out between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia and how to prevent or contain it.

In his eight-page “Contingency Planning Memorandum” released last week by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), retired U.S. ambassador Daniel Kurtzer argued that Israel was more likely than Hezbollah to initiative hostilities and that it could “also use a conflict with Hezbollah as the catalyst and cover for an attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities.”.....

Nonetheless, Kurtzer calls for Washington to upgrade U.S.-Israeli intelligence exchanges; reiterate U.S. support for Israel’s right of self-defense and concerns about Hezbollah’s rearmament; increase pressure on Syria to halt arms shipments to Hezbollah; support international monitoring efforts; and prepare both for the likelihood of war and its aftermath, including the possibility of launching a post-conflict diplomatic initiative to promote a broader Arab-Israeli peace process.

Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma, expressed disappointment that the study did not recommend a more assertive effort by Washington to push Netanyahu into negotiations with Syria over the occupied Golan Heights as a way of gaining Damascus’s cooperation in curbing arms supplies to Hezbollah....."

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