Saturday, July 13, 2013

Policy battles over U.S. pressure paralyze Israel's security community

Typical, narcissistic, self-centered, dumb politicians.




Policy battles over U.S. pressure paralyze Israel's security community

"Steinitz has long wanted to be defense minister, but was given a post that is essentially powerless."

Yuval Steinitz

·  Task: Minister of Intelligence and Strategic Affairs

TEL AVIV — The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been torn over a power struggle regarding responsibility for Israel's strategic affairs.

Israeli sources said the struggle has pitted the National Security Council against the Strategic Affairs Ministry amid U.S. pressure on the Jewish state.

They said Netanyahu has veered from one side to the other in what has resulted in at least one high-level resignation.

"There is chaos in the prime minister's office because Netanyahu can't stick to a decision," a source said. "So, in the end, everybody gets involved and steps over each other."

In late June, National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror resigned amid a dispute over authority. The sources said Amidror, a former military intelligence chief, was dismayed by competition from a Netanyahu confidante, Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz.

Steinitz has sought to replace the National Security Council as the last word on strategic assessments regarding such issues as Egypt, Iran, Palestinian Authority and Syria.

"Steinitz has long wanted to be defense minister, but was given a post that is essentially powerless," the source said. "So, he has embarked on a campaign to expand his ministry at the expense of NSC."

For Amidror, the sources said, this marked the last straw in more than two years of struggle in Netanyahu's office. The sources said Amidror stayed in the post despite constant infighting at the urging of right-wing politicians who feared that Netanyahu would collapse under U.S. pressure to unilaterally establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank in 2014.

"The bottom line: Yaakov Amidror did not resign," Israeli defense analyst Amir Rapaport said. "He had enough. People working closely to Amidror heard of his intention to resign from the National Security Council after concluding two years in the role months ago."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Intelligence and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz. Kobi Gideon/GPO

The sources said Steinitz was also promised by the prime minister a position on the powerful Cabinet committee for security. So far, Netanyahu has failed to implement the pledge within his three-month deadline.

Amidror was regarded as having been the most powerful NSC chief since the post was established 15 years ago. Virtually all of his predecessors resigned after failing to influence the prime minister or the Cabinet.

The sources said Amidror has agreed to stay in his post until a replacement was found. One candidate was identified as Dan Meridor, a former minister in previous Netanyahu Cabinets and regarded as close to Washington.

"It is doubtful whether Meridor or any other former senior politician will want to go through what Amidror went through," another source said.

Meanwhile, Israel's military has deployed another Iron Dome missile and rocket defense system.

The military said an Iron Dome battery was deployed near the northern city of Haifa on June 28. Officials said this marked the sixth Iron Dome battery stationed by the Israel Air Force amid threats from Iran and its proxies in Lebanon and Syria.

"The situation around us has changed swiftly," Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said. "It is volatile and dynamic, and we need to be prepared accordingly."

Officials said the latest Iron Dome, produced by the state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, marked an enhanced variant. They said the battery could intercept missiles with a range of more than 100 kilometers.

Israel has sought to procure and deploy at least 12 Iron Dome batteries with the assistance of the United States. Officials said the air force sought to protect both cities and major military bases from attacks from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, Lebanon and Syria.

"The region is shaking, from south to north. Syria is hemorrhaging blood, and in Lebanon, the fire has begun to catch the edge of [Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan] Nasrallah's robe," Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz told an air force ceremony on June 27. "In the face of this changing reality, we must be prepared, coordinated and alert, more than ever. You, the graduates, have from now on an inseparable part in safeguarding our readiness against these challenges."

Officials said Israel would integrate the Iron Dome batteries into an integrated air and missile defense umbrella. They said the batteries would not be able to defend against massive rocket and missile attacks.

"We are not seeking to challenge anyone, but no one will harm the State of Israel without a response — a strong and resolute response," Netanyahu said.


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