Information Clearing House By Trita Parsi and Paul Pillar Posted Thurs., May 28/15
There are signs Israel may be at war again this summer. This time, not with Hamas in Gaza but with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Such a war may be the result not only of spillover from the Syrian war or ongoing Israeli-Hezbollah tensions.
The deciding factor may be an Israeli calculation that war will shift momentum in the U.S. Congress decisively against the pending nuclear deal with Iran — a deal that critics say will increase Iran’s maneuverability in the region, including its support for Hezbollah. (Iran said it “will not stand by if Lebanon is attacked – r.a. note)
In spite of AIPAC, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Saudis and some of its Gulf state allies having done everything they could to kill the pending nuclear deal with Iran, they have failed.
The negotiations are on track. Many opinion polls show that a comfortable majority of Americans support President Barack Obama’s diplomacy with Iran. If a Congressional vote on a resolution rejecting the nuclear deal were held today, President Obama probably would prevail.
Opposition arguments claim that the nuclear deal is a capitulation to Iran. The more than $50bn would be returned to Tehran and would strengthen Iran in the region and empower its allies.
If Israel were in an active conflict with Lebanon with Hezbollah rockets hitting Israeli cities, as was the case in 2006 would be a game-changer. Such a scenario can become the much desired game-changer that may cause many pro-Netanyahu Democrats to break with Obama.
A case for a war with Hezbollah has been made in Israel for the past few months. On May 12 the New York Times reported that Israeli is preparing for “what it sees as an almost inevitable next battle with Hezbollah.” An Israeli official added in comments to the Times: “We will hit Hezbollah hard.”
The Israelis argue that Hezbollah is engaged in a massive military buildup, and that Israel is publicizing Hezbollah’s armament “to put the problem on the international agenda in case there is another conflict.” According to the Israeli military, Hezbollah now has the capacity to hurl 1200 rockets a day at Israel.
Israel has been pushing this angle for several months. If Israel and Hezbollah do go to war, killing the Iran agreement would not be the only motivation. Such a war would greatly support the rhetoric of those in the United States arguing against the deal with Iran.
In the midst of the Israeli-Lebanese war in 2006, Israel’s then-Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh said Lebanon was all about Iran. “War with Iran is inevitable. Lebanon is just a prelude to the greater war with Iran,” he commented.