Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, has told cabinet ministers that the president of the Palestinian Authority benefits too much from the current negotiations, making him “incapable of signing a historic agreement that ends the conflict”. According to Yedioth Ahronoth, this doubt is coupled with the assessment by Mossad that the military strength of Hamas in the Gaza Strip thwarts attempts to destabilise the government run in the territory by the Islamic Resistance Movement.
The newspaper obtained intelligence reports from the cabinet meeting which also estimated that Israel’s geostrategic position has strengthened over the past year compared to the Iraqi, Syrian and Egyptian armies. The army in Iraq, claims Mossad, has weakened, as has Syria’s following the loss of its chemical and ballistic missile capabilities; Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia, notes the agency, is preoccupied with fighting against Sunni rebels in neighbouring Syria.
Nevertheless, said Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel fears a Lebanese civil war but stresses that Hezbollah is enjoying some “golden days” and has become even more powerful than the Syrian army, in stark contrast to the situation that prevailed two years ago. It added that the Egyptian army’s interference in internal political affairs for two years now has limited its growth and weakened its intelligence against allegedly Al-Qaeda linked organisations in the Sinai Peninsula.
The Mossad report claims that Israel’s military leaders believe that it is possible now to reach Damascus within a few hours; two years ago they would have said that it would take at least a week. It estimates that the Syrian army has lost half of its soldiers during the civil war; that figure includes those killed as well as deserters. Given that the Assad regime’s air defence systems have also been destroyed, the assessment is that Syria represents a minor threat to Israel.
In conclusion, Yedioth Ahronoth noted that the Mossad spy agency still regards Iran as Israel’s number one enemy in the Middle East, mainly due to its nuclear programme. Israeli intelligence estimates claim that the government in Tehran will not violate the terms of its agreement with the West over the coming months so as not to affect the lifting of crippling sanctions. Even so, Mossad expects the freeze on nuclear development to be “temporary”. Israel will, it is alleged, try over the coming months to consult major world powers on Iran and the proposed permanent agreement to curb its development of a nuclear weapon.