Israel’s foes seen as waiting for Bush exit


Iran and Syria are rearming but unlikely to launch a war with Israel while President Bush is in office, Israel’s military intelligence chief said.

Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin said in a briefing Sunday to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s Cabinet that while Israel’s arch-foes continue to be hostile, it will take more than a few months to complete a current round of arming their militaries and therefore they are unlikely to initiate a war before Bush steps down in January.

Iran and Syria also want to assess conditions in the United States under Bush’s successor – be it Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) or Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) – and do not want to prejudice the new administration with open bellicosity.

But according to Yadlin, the Iranian- and Syrian-backed terrorist groups Hezbollah and Hamas may trigger small-scale hostilities on Israel’s border with Lebanon or the Gaza Strip, respectively.

Hezbollah, he said, was emboldened by last week’s hostage swap with Israel and may try to kidnap more soldiers in order to force Israeli troops out of a disputed border zone, the Shebaa Farms. And while Hamas is largely keeping to a Gaza truce, Egypt’s refusal to open its border with the coastal territory may lead to a Hamas-led or Hamas-inspired attack, Yadlin said.

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