All states share a common and binding obligation to apprehend and punish terrorists. Although Israel remains on the front line of this rule and does everything possible to comply with operational terms, it has a corollary obligation to keep sentenced terrorist murderers in confinement. When Haitham Muari, one of the Hamas murderers convicted in the grotesque 2004 mutilation murders of two Israelis in Ramallah, was recently set free, it placed Israel in the regrettable position of initiating yet another lawless terrorist release. The official explanation from Jerusalem – that Muari had “only” been involved in the pre-mutilation beating of Sgt. Maj. Yosef Avrahami, and should therefore be released after a much briefer period of imprisonment – is wrongly exculpatory, legally contrived, and nationally self-destructive.
Israel’s recent raids against Syrian targets are lawful and law-enforcing. Facing an increasingly dangerous Hezbollah, Jerusalem correctly understands that even a failed state has legal obligations not to assist in terrorist assaults against Israel. These obligations, concerning Syria in particular, are authoritatively codified in treaty-based and customary international law. Moreover, in consequence of Syria’s active and unambiguous complicity with Hezbollah, Israel has a corresponding obligation to prevent and/or mitigate such terrorist crimes. This obligation, which Israel is undertaking well within the limitations of humanitarian international law, is owed both to citizens of the Jewish State and to the broader community of nations.
Although concerns about a Trump confrontation with a nuclear North Korea are widespread, there has been little corollary discussion of crisis implications for other parts of the world. Yet there are important spillover implications to be considered, specifically with reference to the Middle East and Israel’s nuclear strategy.
There is no scientifically valid way to predict US presidential irrationality. Nor is there any analytically acceptable way for an American president to foretell the nuclear outcomes of any considered policy decision. There is another, less frequently considered possibility that is just as impossible to predict: that President Trump could refuse to follow through on deterrent threats, thereby allowing assorted Russian aggressions – including those that might involve Israel.