Israel: August 25, 1999

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Israel launched five raids on Hezbollah positions, firing some two dozen missiles. This was in response to a Hezbollah attack on an Israeli supported South Lebanese Army (SLA) patrol. No SLA troops were hurt, but apparently Israeli had some leads on good Hezbollah targets, as this is what drives the attacks on Hezbollah.

August 24; MAKE OR BREAK FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST: The term of hardliner Netanyahu gave proponents of the peace process a three-year grace period during which they did not actually have to deliver peace (since Netanyahu clearly had no plans to carry it through). New PM Barak, however, is a strong supporter of the process and will have to either deliver a viable peace treaty or watch the entire process collapse. The problem with the Middle East peace process is what it always has been, the fundamental belief by many Arabs that peace is not the desired end; the destruction of the state of Israel is. Israelis remain concerned that since the surrounding Arab states are not democracies, factions that favor the military solution over a peace treaty may gain power and turn any peace treaty with less than secure borders into a blueprint for destruction. Efforts to find a peace formula for Syria focus on the Golan but go much deeper. Israel and Syria have different ideas of what peace is. For Syria, peace means no fighting. For Israel, peace means commercial ties, i.e., the right for Israeli companies to export into Syria and set up shop there, something the Syrian government has no interest in. Israel wants the commercial ties to begin immediately with a phased return of the Golan; Syria wants the Golan first and will discuss commercial ties at some future point (meaning not at all).--Stephen V Cole

 

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