Monday, June 30, 2014

Israel on the brink as pro-ISIS riots rage in Jordan

PM Netanyahu looks ready to use the murders of the kidnapped settlers as his excuse to unleash a heavy-handed retaliatory strike against the Palestinian population of both the West Bank and Gaza. Combined with this morning's settler raid on Al-Aqsa Mosque, will that provoke the Third Intifada?

Events unfolding across the border in Jordan suggest that an uprising by the Palestinians at this time could very well sweep through that country as well. There has been pro-ISIS rioting in the southern city of Ma'an for the past week, and in many parts of the Hashemite Kingdom there seems no doubt that ISIS is far more popular than the King.

Reports that Jordanian troops have crossed into Iraq to engage ISIS fighters will not enhance the popularity of King Abdulla, especially if it comes to light that these raids into Iraq include American involvement. According to Israeli website Debkafile there are at least 12,000 US troops on the ground in Jordan. In normal times they might serve as a deterrent to an ISIS incursion.

But these are not "normal times".

The West Bank and Gaza erupting in violence at this point in time would surely inflame the anti-US, anti-Israel factions rioting in Jordan. That would embolden the ISIS fighters poised at the Iraq-Jordan border and at that point the deterrent effect of those US troops would be non-existent.

There are already reports circulating about ISIS plans to "liberate" Jerusalem. Whatever Netanyahu does next will either ramp up the violence further, or help diffuse the situation.

The Halhul murders need to be addressed with a calm and professional criminal investigation, not by striking out in a blind rage looking for vengeance. That will serve no-one but the extremists.

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