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“Defeat Hamas To Defeat Iran”

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Yossi Klein Halevi and Michael B. Oren write in today’s Los Angeles Times on Israel’s “unique chance to deal a strategic blow to Iranian expansionsim.” Key graphs:

If Israel successfully overthrows Hamas in Gaza, it would strengthen anti-Iranian forces throughout the Mideast and signal the region that Iranian momentum can be reversed. The Israeli military operation could begin the process that topples a terrorist regime that seized power in the Gaza Strip in 2007 and has fired thousands of rockets and mortar shells into Israeli neighborhoods.

And whether or not Hamas is ultimately overthrown, Israel can achieve substantial goals. The first is an absolute cease-fire. Previous cease-fires allowed Hamas to launch two or three rockets a week into Israel and to smuggle weapons into Gaza through tunnels. To obtain a cease-fire now, the international community should recognize Israel’s right to respond to any aggression over its international border and monitor the closure of Hamas’ weapons-smuggling tunnels.

Above all, the goal is to ensure that Hamas is unable to proclaim victory and thereby enhance Iranian prestige in the Arab world.

Removing Iran’s influence from Gaza would allow genuine negotiations between Israel and the PLA to proceed, and for Gaza to be reincorporated within the Palestinian polity. Hamas will never agree to a lasting peace with Israel, no matter the terms. Any commentary that does not proceed from that understanding is worthless. There’s no guarantee that the PLA can reform itself into a responsible partner with Israel in establishing a long-term solution for the region, but there is no practical probability that Hamas ever will.


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