Friday, June 8, 2007
Tense But Manageable
The Jerusalem Post's got a good interview with Shaul Mofaz, the former Israeli Defense Minister and chief of General Staff who's now the Transportation Minister. They introduce it as pessimistic, but to me it seemed if not upbeat, at least not alarmist.
He gives strengthened UN sanctions a 50% chance of getting Iran to freeze its enrichment program. He also doesn't think the jihadi-based violence in Lebanon will spill over into Israel. And he thinks that although things are tense on the Syrian border, it's in neither side's interests to go to war. To that end, he advocates backchannel negotiations with the Syrians that could eventually lead to formal peace talks.
On the negative side, he believes that Hizbullah has re-armed and is now back to pre-war levels of military preparedness on both sides of the Litani River, and that Hamas is poised to take control of the Palestinian Authority. Complicating everything is the flow of arms from Iran and Syria to Hisbullah and Hamas.
Still, all in all it's a coolheaded assessment. Not surprising, then, that he met with Condoleeza Rice while he was in Washington for joint strategy sessions last week. Cheney was probably busy talking shop and picking targets with Bibi Netanyahu.