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A most determined occupation and its cursed victory

It is not momentum or errors or personality quirks which have sustained the occupation, but a clear determination by Israel’s elite to maintain control of the West Bank and Gaza. Those who are willing to openly examine how Israel – and the pre-state Zionist Jewish community in the Holy Land – conducted itself prior to 1967, can only view the occupation as part of a natural continuum.

Cursed Victory: A History of Israel and the Occupied Territories. By Ahron Bregman. Allen Lane; 416 pages; £25.

I received my copy of Cursed Victory – Ahron Bregman’s history of the occupation – on the very first day rockets were fired on Tel Aviv during the latest Gaza war. It was one of those rare moments when the reality of the occupation intruded into my daily life, because like most Israelis, most of the time, I am largely sheltered from its pernicious effect.

The same cannot be said for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. The occupation shapes every aspect of mundane existence in their cities, towns and villages. This asymmetry of experience, added to the inherent asymmetry of power between the Palestinians and Israel, is reflected in each side’s views, perceptions and politics.

'Cursed Victory'For Israelis, the occupation is mainly a subject for negotiations in the halls of power. If they think about it at all, they think about positions to be defended in talks and diplomatic discussions, about the terms of agreements and political maneuvering for advantage. Palestinians consider all of these things, of course, but for them, the occupation encompasses everything else as well: access to water and power, urban planning, economic development, education. There is no rhythm of life that is not interrupted by Israel’s control, no public policy issue that is not overshadowed by it.

Cursed Victory reflects this asymmetry, as would any factually accurate account of the issue. But Bregman’s history does not address or analyze this massive imbalance, and this is its greatest flaw. Indeed, as the narrative progresses, despite being highly critical of the occupation and Israel’s policies, it increasingly adopts the Israeli viewpoint (at least, its center-left version) and as a result, critical aspects of the story are missed.

In his introduction, Bregman writes:

The book delivers on both elements of this promise. Some of its most powerful sections are those that describe the Palestinians’ human experience and pain,...

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Putting a halt to the 'assembly line' of Palestinian prisoners

Rather than arguing over the ‘gestures’ of releasing long-term prisoners, Israel must use restraint during arrests in the West Bank, while ensuring fair and swift procedures in the military courts.

(Translated by Ofer Neiman)

One of the main factors behind the failure of the recent round of Israeli-Palestinian talks was Israel’s decision to cancel the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners, which had been agreed upon as a goodwill gesture to the Palestinian Authority. The issue of prisoner release, whether in the framework of negotiations or in the framework of prisoner exchange deals, touches on very strong sentiments on both sides. For the Palestinians, the prisoners are members of their own people being held by a foreign occupier. For many Israelis, the prisoners are “bad people,” responsible for killing and injuring Israeli soldiers and Jewish citizens.

The release of prisoners, perceived by one side as the redemption of captives, is perceived by the other as gross injustice and even as a threat to one’s life. Accordingly, Palestinians have regarded the cancellation as sufficient grounds for terminating the talks; while in Israel previous rounds of prisoner release have brought about waves of protest and condemnation, culminating in a controversial bill aimed at preempting the future release of prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment.

Criminalizing an entire people

Negotiations on the issue of Palestinian prisoners tend to focus on a certain group of prisoners – those sentenced to lengthy terms, usually on the basis of convictions of grievous violence (the validity of these convictions and/or the gravity of the offenses are a bone of contention). All 78 prisoners released so far as part of gestures for the promotion of the talks in 2013 – 2014 belonged to this group (and the same holds for the 26 whose release was cancelled). Of 1,027 prisoners released as part of the Gilad Shalit deal in 2011, 434 had been sentenced to at least 20 years (including 275 cases of life imprisonment) – and this group was the focus of negotiations between Israel and Hamas.

Focusing on the aforementioned prisoners is only natural. They are the ones who have spent, or are expected to spend, a long period behind bars. They are also those who have been convicted by Israel’s military justice system of what it sees as grave offenses.

IN PHOTOS: Palestinian prisoners, supporters struggle for freedom

However, one should recall that this...

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Why BDS won't work, and what can

Those who care about ending the occupation, in Israel and outside it, are faced with real, difficult choices. I believe these choices matter. That is why I oppose BDS.          

Larry Derfner’s recent article in support of BDS is well-written, passionately argued and compelling. Nonetheless, I find myself in strong disagreement with its key assertions and conclusions.

As I see it, the article rests on the following argument: first, the evacuation of settlements necessary to end the occupation would be very difficult for Israel. Second, Israelis do not currently incur any significant cost for the continuation of the occupation. Third, the only way to make Israelis pay that cost is by supporting some version of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), at least on the settlements themselves.

I find all three statements unconvincing, and will address each in turn.

The settlers are paper tigers

Larry rightly points out that it is impossible to envisage an end to the occupation without extensive settlement evacuation. But I believe he errs when stating that the “specter of the sort of cataclysm that would be triggered [if there is major settlement evacuation] is enough to stop any government from touching it.” Why would there be such a cataclysm? Because the ideological core of the settlers are “fearsome,” they (and the right) would engage in “rebellion” which could lead to “bloodshed” and turn the country “upside down.”

Read: After Kerry, only BDS may save the two-state solution

Will resistance be so fierce and costly? Larry points to past experience with evacuations, in the Sinai and Gaza Strip (he doesn’t mention that a handful of small settlements in the West Bank were also removed as part of the Gaza disengagement plan). These evacuations affected a relatively moderate branch of the settlement movement, a small number of people, and areas that were (largely) outside the scope of the “Greater Israel” project and of lower ideological valence. Yet they were accompanied by significant upheaval, protest and turmoil, including some (non-lethal) violence.

It makes sense to conclude that evacuating a much larger mass of far more extreme settlers from the areas perceived as most valuable and sacred would indeed be “cataclysmic.” But such a scenario would go against everything we have learned about the ideological settlers and the extreme right since the occupation began, and...

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Israel's economy has problems, but a bubble ain't one

The concern sparked by claims of an economic bubble in Israel are not supported by data, and could lead to a harmful consequences if interest rates rise and exchange rates are adversely affected. A response to Jesse Colombo in Forbes.

In an article recently published on, Jesse Colombo argues that “Israel’s economic boom is not the miracle that it appears to be, but is actually another bubble that is similar to those that caused the financial crisis.” The article has been widely cited, both in Israel and abroad.

Worrying about an economic bubble neatly dovetails with Israelis’ characteristic eschatological anxiety, but in this case, it is baseless. Despite its many problems, Israel’s economy is not a bubble. It is an idea that must be refuted, because if it becomes of a part of conventional wisdom, it could lead to bad economic policy. Specifically, it could pressure the Bank of Israel (BoI) to raise interest rates and strengthen the shekel (Israel’s currency), plunging the economy into recession.

Israel is not the U.S.

Colombo asserts that in recent years, an economic bubble was inflated as a result of large capital inflows, that have strengthened the shekel. The BoI has struggled to block the shekel’s rise, by purchasing U.S. dollars and reducing interest rates. According to Colombo, this has caused rising inflation and property price bubbles.

On inflation, Colombo is simply mistaken. Inflation in Israel has actually fallen considerably. On property prices, the picture is more complex. Housing prices have gone sharply up, and they are currently above their long-term equilibrium level. But the trend is much less extreme than Colombo’s presentation implies. And he proceeds from this exaggeration to develop claims which are wholly unfounded.

According to Colombo’s narrative, future interest rate rises will cause many households to struggle with ballooning, unaffordable mortgage payments. Many families will go bankrupt and banks’ stability will be jeopardized. The shock to the financial system and housing market, combined with reduced consumption by struggling households, will bring about a severe recession. To support this narrative, Colombo points to similar dynamics which unfolded in the recent U.S. economic and financial crisis in 2008-2009.

However, the current situation in Israel is completely different from pre-crisis US. In some aspects, opposite conditions prevail.

In the U.S., the rise in housing prices was fueled...

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Getting the facts straight on law enforcement in the West Bank

Law enforcement in the West Bank is a complex topic. Those who attempt to analyze it better get the background right.

In his recent piece for the new, explanatory journalism website Vox, Zack Beauchamp attempts to analyze some figures on law enforcement in the West Bank, obtained by The Associated Press. He divides the number of arrests of Israeli citizens and Palestinians in the occupied territory by the size of each population, and reaches a surprising outcome: it is Israelis that are more frequently arrested than Palestinians, not vice versa. To his credit, he does point out that “[i]t’s unlikely that Israel police are discriminating against Israelis and in favor of Palestinians.” Instead, he offers some tentative alternative explanations.

However, there is no need for speculation, because there is no mystery to be solved; the calculation is flawed, as it ignores some basic facts about law enforcement in the West Bank.

The most important fact overlooked in the article is that the Israel Police, which provided the figures, does not investigate crimes committed by Palestinians against other Palestinians. These investigations are carried out by the Palestinian Authority. On the other hand, the Israel Police investigates all crimes committed by Israelis in the West Bank, regardless of the nationality of the victim. It is only natural then, that Israelis will be massively overrepresented in its arrest statistics. This overrepresentation is exacerbated by the fact that many crimes committed by Palestinians against Israelis are also investigated by the Palestinian Authority, depending on the nature of the crime and the residence of the perpetrator.

Second, Beauchamp seems to have missed the fact that the figures provided to AP are solely about minors. Admittedly, AP does not do a good job of highlighting this distinction, but it does mention it twice in the same short piece. Why does it matter? Because until October 2010, Israel defined the age of minority differently for Israelis and Palestinians. For the former, it was up to the age of 18, for the latter it ended at 16. The figures provided by the Israel Police are for 2008-2013, and it is unclear which definition the police used. Knowing their record-keeping practices, I would venture to guess it is based on a chaotic mix of both definitions.

The distinction between adults and minors is critical for another reason. Adult Palestinians come face-to-face with Israeli authorities in two...

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Will surprising results stop a status-quo Netanyahu-led government?

Despite the surprising weakness of the Right-ultra-Orthodox bloc, the final result of the elections, according to exit polls, is still likely to be a status-quo Netanyahu-led government. Why? Because the big winner in this election, media personality Yair Lapid, is a vapid centrist who is likely to join Netanyahu’s coalition and make little noise on policy — either on Israel-Palestine, or any other topic

The exit-poll results are in, and Noam has an excellent summary of the headline figures. A lot of the attention, as actual results pour in through the night, will be focused on the balance between the blocs. The common wisdom, based on the polls, was that the Right and the ultra-Orthodox will have something between 64-67 (of 120) seats in the Knesset – a solid majority that was supposed to strengthen Netanyahu’s hand in coalition negotiations.

According to the exit polls, that bloc is actually 61-62 seats, bringing it perilously close to losing its majority. This is a surprising result, especially in light of very low voter turnout among Israeli-Palestinian citizens, who rarely vote for the Right. Yet even if the Right and ultra-Orthodox fall to 60 or slightly below, the outcome might be disappointingly similar to what everyone assumed: a Netanyahu-led government, incorporating some centrist parties.

The basic problem is that the Jewish-Zionist parties of the “Left” or “Center” have never been willing to form a coalition with the non-Zionist Arab parties, or even form a minority coalition relying on their votes. Without the Arab parties, there is no chance that the Center-Left can form a government on its own. That automatically weakens its hand in coalition negotiations.

Furthermore, the Jewish-Zionist Center-Left is currently splintered into two major parties (Labor and Yesh Atid, with 17-19 seats each, according to exit polls) and two smaller parties (Meretz and Hatnua, with 6-7 each, according to the exits). Netanyahu can pick off parts of this bloc at his convenience.

The task is made easier by the most surprising result indicated by the exit polls: the rise of Yesh Atid to become second-largest party after Likud-Beitenu. Yesh Atid is a new party, headed by Yair Lapid, a media personality and the son of late journalist and politician Yosef Lapid, who led a similar party to similar results in elections that took place less than a decade ago. As its name suggests (it means “there is a future” in...

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Israel's major parties support a non-democratic one-state solution

No matter what their beliefs about Palestinians’ aims and desires, the policy of Israel’s leaders does not accord with their stated support for a two-state solution or for a democratic and Jewish state.

Following up on my post regarding the two-state solution (and some of the comments to that post), I would like to put forth a more general and formal version of my argument.

Let’s say that you are stridently opposed to the idea of one state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean – one that would be undemocratic, and based on the explicit, formal and institutionalized supremacy of the (soon-to-be) Jewish minority within such a state. Let’s also say that you reject a democratic and egalitarian one-state solution, which would not – in your opinion – be compatible with the Jewish right for national self-determination. What do you do?

That depends on your assessment regarding the Palestinian position. As I see it, there are three possibilities for understanding the Palestinians’ stand.

First, you may believe that the Palestinians will reject any solution in which the state of Israel continues to exist in anything resembling its current form. If that is what you think, the solution is clear: dismantle the vast majority of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and retreat to lines of contiguous Israeli territory.

Such a solution would be good for security, as it does not constrict the IDF’s operational leeway in any way, and indeed it would release precious resources currently directed to defending these settlements. It would show the world Israel is committed to a reasonable solution, and would allow the country to retain both its Jewish and (formally) democratic character. Even the economic cost would be limited, as not all that many settlers live in those isolated settlements. It would entail a political rift with the hard right, but then again, the hard right supports a non-democratic one-state solution, so it is hard to see how friction with it can be avoided, if you stick to your own positions.

Second, you may believe that the Palestinians will only accept a solution in which they get 98 percent of West Bank. In this case, you will just give them what they want. You get to avoid the one-state non-democratic nightmare you are so concerned about, peace with the Palestinians, and widespread international support, probably covering most of the cost of this mass...

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In controversy over Peres remarks, Israeli 'center-left' pays lip service to two-state solution

The recent controversy over remarks made by President Peres regarding negotiations with Palestinians exposes how the ‘center-left’ pays lip service to the two-state solution, while still preferring a one-state solution with Jewish supremacy.

During the current election campaign, two of the most popular party leaders identified with the center-left have done almost everything in their power to avoid saying anything left-sounding on the Palestinian topic. Yair Lapid, leader (and personification) of Yesh Atid, and Shelly Yechimovitch, head of the Labor party, have often tried to position themselves to the right of this issue (Yachimovitch saying nice things about settlements, Lapid opposing division of Jerusalem and favoring a free hand for the IDF).

Three weeks before the elections, the past few days have witnessed a rare break in this trend. The occasion was a speech by the supposedly non-political head of state, President Shimon Peres, before Israeli ambassadors to foreign nations. Peres presented his well-known position, that the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, is willing and able to make the concessions necessary for an agreement on a two-state solution with Israel. He criticized statements to the contrary, made by Prime Minister Netanyahu and former Foreign Minister Lieberman (both of the Likud-Beitenu party).

His message apparently resonated with the audience who, later in the same conference, complained that defending Israel abroad is made more difficult by the government’s intransigent positions and actions (a point reaffirmed by a recent think tank report). They were promptly told by Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror to keep their opinions to themselves or resign and run for political office.

The president got only a slightly milder treatment. Likud-Beitenu issued a statement expressing disappointment in the president, blasting him for being “disconnected,” causing damage to Israel’s image abroad, and calling Abbas a “peace refusenik.”

Lapid and Yachimovitch could have settled for defending the popular president, an octogenarian who in two-thirds of a century of political activity has gone from defense-establishment hawk to hated symbol of the left to quintessential consensus figure and elder statesman. Instead, they both chose to combine their spirited rejection of the attacks on Peres with a relatively strong defense of the two-state solution, arguing that it is the only Zionist solution with a national consensus behind it.

The latter point is confirmed by a recent poll, showing a majority support for a two-state solution – including the...

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Israeli minister aptly compares Ariel settlement with Falklands

Last Tuesday, it became official: the IDF (following approval from Defense Minister Barak) recognized the academic center in the settlement of Ariel as a full-fledged university. International condemnation soon followed. A UK minister, for instance, expressed disappointment regarding Israel’s decision, and labeled it an obstacle to peace.

In response, Israeli Education Minister Gideon Saar (Likud) argued that “[o]ur connection to Ariel is at least as strong as the UK’s connection to the Falkland Islands.” This comparison is quite apt because Ariel, like the Falklands, is the product of a colonial enterprise, meant to place a metropolitan population amidst a weaker people.

Furthermore, Ariel and the Falklands are both islands. Whereas the Falklands are surrounded by an ocean of water, Ariel is surrounded by Palestinians. It is at the very heart of the West Bank with very little geographic contiguity with Jewish areas of residence inside the Green Line, or even with other settlements in the West Bank. That is why any map that attempts to include it as part of Israel within a two-state solution ends up looking like it was drawn by a cubist painter.

There are distinctions, of course. Most importantly, the other claimant for sovereignty over the Falklands – Argentina – is a sovereign and independent nation. The Palestinians, who have been uprooted to make room for Ariel, are a stateless people living on lands inhabited by them for generations, kept in this position by the very Israeli power that founded and recognized the “university” in Ariel.

Perhaps the most revealing part of this comparison is that Saar, like many of my compatriots, probably sees very little difference between the actual human beings that surround Ariel and want it gone, and the indifferent seawater that surround the Falklands on every side. That might be a greater obstacle to peace than the settlement itself.


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Putting together Netanyahu's next coalition might be trickier than it seems

Netanyahu will continue to serve as prime minister after the upcoming elections, but putting together a governing coalition will have significant long-term implications.

The headline result of the upcoming elections in Israel, as Noam Sheizaf has thoroughly documented, is not in doubt. Benjamin Netanyahu will continue as Israel’s prime minister for another term, and will strive to maintain his policy of status quo in every area of policy.

Nonetheless, there are at least two aspects of uncertainty in these elections. First, the potential for more significant changes in areas not related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (such as economic policy or secular-religious relations). Second, these election results could shape the dynamics of the following elections, in which a different outcome is certainly possible (especially considering the incredible volatility of Israeli politics over the past two decades).

To understand these elements of uncertainty, one must examine the different scenarios for post-elections coalition formation. Netanyahu will win, but like all of Israel’s previous prime ministers, his party will not have enough seats to form a government on its own.

The most natural composition of a Likud-led coalition would be what Noam has labeled the right-Orthodox bloc, which will almost certainly hold a majority in the next Knesset. Netanyahu has been reluctant to rely on this formation exclusively, which has brought him down for the slightest of compromises in his first premiership in the 1990s. But having this option would strengthen his hand in discussions with other potential partners.

Right now, the greatest threat for this scenario comes from two tiny parties, struggling to gain enough votes to reach the threshold necessary to get seats in the Knesset.

Am Shalem is an unconventional and hard-to-classify party, a splinter of the ultra-orthodox Shas party, which is nonetheless running hard against current ultra-Orthodox leadership, arguing for modernization in this community. It is likely to draw the majority of its votes from the right-Orthodox bloc, yet it is hard to envisage its participation in a coalition which includes the very parties it is running against.

The second tiny party is Otzma LeYisrael, a far-right party. It will take all its votes from the right-Orthodox block, but its prospects of joining the coalition are unclear. Netanyahu might balk at relying on such rabid extremists, and they could actually prefer the opposition, where they would not be tainted by compromise and could snipe at their slightly-less-hard-right colleagues...

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Attacks on Palestinians highlight history of lax enforcement on Jewish extremists

Recent violent attacks on Palestinians by Jewish extremists highlight the deficient law enforcement and weak penalties imposed on perpetrators of similar past attacks

Two recent incidents have brought attention to the issue of attacks on Palestinian civilians by Jewish extremists. On Thursday, a firebomb was thrown at a Palestinian taxi in the West Bank, injuring six people, one of them seriously. Later the same day, three Palestinian youth were assaulted in a “lynch” committed by dozens of Jewish youth in West Jerusalem, while hundreds stood by without intervening.

Both incidents have sparked widespread condemnation; and the firebomb attack has been labeled a terrorist attack by both Israeli and American officials. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and promised him that Israel will catch the perpetrators of this attack.

Yet this kind of incident is hardly a new development. Last year, the Jerusalem Post warned that Jewish terrorism was “gaining steam.” The article argued that a serious response to this problem is “long overdue,” pointing to several years of warnings by Israeli security officials on this issue.

Despite this, law enforcement on Jewish extremists has remained highly deficient. According to information gathered by the Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din, 85 percent of police investigations fail when it comes to violent crimes committed by settlers against Palestinians. And Netanyahu’s promise to catch the perpetrators of the recent firebomb attack sounds all the more dubious, considering Israel’s record of breaking similar promises when it comes to the spate of mosque arsons which have plagued the West Bank in recent years.

Even when perpetrators are caught, their treatment leaves a lot to be desired. The penalties imposed by courts tend to be severe when it comes to the most violent crimes. However, Israeli presidents over the years have used their pardon powers to mitigate the punishment of Jewish extremists. To illustrate the magnitude of this problem, I have listed the most prominent cases from the last 30 years:

-The infamous Jewish Underground, active in the 1980s, was responsible for numerous attacks in which three innocent Palestinian civilians were killed and dozens were injured. Fifteen members of this terrorist group were convicted. Three of them received life sentences, but were released after seven years when President Chaim Herzog, of the Labor Party, commuted their sentences.

-Allan Goodman,...

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Dim prospects for international pressure to end occupation

The international community is highly unlikely to pressure Israel to end the occupation. Both the U.S. and Europe are expanding cooperation and aid, and refuse to use bilateral ties as leverage to change Israeli policy. A solution must come from Israelis or Palestinians or both; the outside world has an auxiliary role, at best

One of the growing signs of pessimism regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the belief of many activists that only external pressure on Israel can lead to a just solution. This is the premise of a wide spectrum of efforts, from those calling for mild pressure and diplomatic initiatives, to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The latter often points to the example of South Africa, where sanctions and international isolation contributed to the demise of the Apartheid regime.

Beyond the questions of principle and justice, which are certainly relevant, one must also address the issue of efficacy. Do we have any reason to believe that international pressure on Israel, let alone sanctions, is at all likely? There is an abundance of evidence that points to an emphatically negative answer.

The most important international actor today is, of course, the United States. That country also happens to be Israel’s staunchest ally. Instead of growing more critical of the occupation as it nears the end of its first half century, Washington is ever less likely to oppose Israel’s policies, let alone pressure its government. After some half-hearted attempts at (very mild) pressure during the beginning of his term, the Obama administration has quickly retreated to a position of unquestioning support, lavishing Israel with aid and cooperation. While Washington’s positions on the Palestinian issue have not really changed, using its leverage against Israel in any way is not really on the agenda.

So maybe Europe is the answer? Although not as important as the United States, Europeans’ extensive commercial and cultural ties with Israel provide them with significant tools to apply pressure, if they choose. Certainly, European countries have been far more willing to harshly condemn Israel’s actions and policies than recent American administrations.

But over the past two decades (at least) they have clearly made a strategic choice to move in the opposite direction. Instead of holding relations with Israel hostage to progress on the Palestinian issue, they have decided to largely plough ahead with strengthening ties. Their hope is that...

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The 9 most important questions (and answers) on an Iran strike

As talk of an imminent Israeli attack on Iran veers from frenzy to doubt, I outline the nine most important questions (and answers) regarding this operation: Are the Iranians willing and capable of developing a nuclear weapon? What will happen if they get it? Is a military strike necessary and effective, or harmful? Who is against and who is for the strike?

1. Does Iran intend to develop a nuclear weapon?

Probably yes. Iran (unlike Israel) has signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which bars all signatories from developing nuclear weapons, aside from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. But Tehran has already violated its commitments under the NPT, and at least two countries (Iraq and North Korea) have developed or come near to developing nuclear weapons after signing the NPT. Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has issued a religious decree, a Fatwa, ruling that possessing or using nuclear weapons is contrary to Islam. Yet this ruling does not seem to exclude the development of a nuclear breakout capability, where a country could quickly construct a nuclear warhead if it felt the need for it (e.g. Japan). Despite Iranian denials, this seems to be the main aim of their Uranium enrichment program, not to mention work they may have done on developing a nuclear warhead.

2. Can they do it?

Probably yes. Building a nuclear weapon is an immensely difficult and expensive undertaking, requiring the gradual accumulation of complex technical skills. This is part of the reason why predictions about Iran’s imminent possession of such weapons have been disproven again and again over the past two decades.  Yet over that period, Iran has made progress towards that goal, albeit much more slowly than Western intelligence has estimated. If North Korea could do it, it is certainly possible for Iran, although it will have to decide at each point whether it is willing to invest the necessary resources and efforts.

3. Will they launch a nuclear attack on Israel or other countries?

Probably not. Iran has certainly threatened Israel many times, and has not disguised its objection to the country’s very existence. Many argue that a country run by fundamentalist clerics cannot be trusted to operate on a rational basis: its leadership may decide that a divine imperative to destroy Israel overrules any other consideration. But this argument is belied by the...

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