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Trump may chicken out on Iran, frets Israel

Israeli security officials are getting worried that escalating tensions between the United States and Iran could spill over into Israel through an attack by Hezbollah on the northern border.
U.S. President Donald Trump listens to questions during a meeting with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House national security adviser John Bolton look on in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 20, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RC1ACBBDB270

Up until several weeks ago, Israel assessed probability of a direct or indirect flare-up with Iran in one of the Israeli-Iranian conflict arenas as low. Until recently, Israel believed that Iran did not intend to find itself confronting the Israel Defense Forces, and that was the reason it had not responded to attacks attributed to the Israeli air force against Iranian targets in Syria, and that was also why its proxy Hezbollah was displaying restraint vis-à-vis Israeli activities against it. According to this assessment, Iran was investing most of its efforts in arranging terror attacks against Israelis in the West Bank and in encouraging and helping the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza to oppose any cease-fire deals with Israel and to continue stirring up trouble along the Gaza border.

In light of the rapidly escalating tensions between Iran and the United States in the Gulf it is in Iran’s best interest to keep upping the ante and fomenting instability along one of its fronts with Israel. A blowup, whether on the Golan Heights border with Syria or along the border with Lebanon, would give Iran a reason to keep defying the United States. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened the diplomacy-security cabinet on June 16 and 19 for the first time in months. The last thing he needs now is a commission of inquiry after the fact blaming him for failing to prepare and to share his preparations for the growing prospects of war with the interim caretaker government he heads.

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