Analysis: Rice Visit Suggests U.S. Shares Israeli Goals

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Guest host Don Gonyea speaks with David Horovitz, editor in chief of the Jerusalem Post.

DON GONYEA, host:

David Horovitz is editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post. He joins us now from Jerusalem. David, welcome and thanks for being here.

Mr. DAVID HOROVITZ (Editor-in-Chief, Jerusalem Post): Thank you, Don.

GONYEA: So more than a week has passed now since the two Israeli soldiers were captured by Hezbollah and the Israeli attacks on Lebanon began. Has the Israeli government been actively seeking to postpone this visit from Secretary of State Rice? And I wonder, is the Israeli government welcoming her arrival there?

Mr. HOROVITZ: I think the fact that she's made a relatively leisurely journey here suggests that America shares a lot of Israel's goals in this conflict and has not been anxious to impose a diplomatic solution in what is perceived to be premature timing.

GONYEA: So it's as much an American decision on the timing as it is Israeli.

Mr. HOROVITZ: I have no doubt. And I think it's the wider context that's relevant here. The two soldiers who were kidnapped was, if you'd like, the trigger, I would say, for what is an overtly stated Israeli aim now, which is to disable and - in partnership with the international community - have Hezbollah dismantled.

The fence is that for six years after Israel pulled back to the international border, Hezbollah basically built up an unprecedented military capability for a terror group, something like 12,000 rockets, including missiles that can hit as far as Tel-Aviv.

And after those soldiers were kidnapped and eight soldiers were actually killed the same day in the course of that attack, in an attempt to rescue the kidnapees, Israel has basically decided it cannot sit facing Hezbollah across the border with two-thirds of the country basically under threat.

GONYEA: So on the Rice visit, what can she expect to hear from the Israeli government in her talks in Jerusalem?

Mr. HOROVITZ: I'm not sure that there's going to be that much that they're not already familiar with and that they're not each saying to each other. I think there's a shared sense between Israel and America that Hezbollah is an Iranian and a Syrian proxy. It's a fundamentalist organization that is dedicated to eliminating Israel. And along with Iran it has wider goals for an Islamic extremist expansion.

And I think there will be a desire, a shared desire between Jerusalem and Washington, to have the military offensive paralleled with a diplomatic track. In other words, Israel able to do what it can to undermine Hezbollah's capabilities and then with the international community taking up the baton and, among other things, seeking some means to guarantee that this time the relevant U.N. Resolution 1559 is implemented and Hezbollah is dismantled, which was supposed to have happened when Israel pulled back to the international border with Israel pulled back to the international border with the U.N. demarcating and approving that border line six years ago.

GONYEA: Mm hmm. Could I get you to give us some impression of sentiment among Israelis toward the fighting in Lebanon, now more than a week in?

Mr. HOROVITZ: There is very wide support in Israel for what the army is doing. And I wouldn't say completely wall to wall. There are certainly - I think I would be fair to say that a majority of Israeli Arabs are probably sharing the critic's view that Israel is overreacting and maybe a small minority of Israeli Jews. But overwhelmingly, in Israel, there's support for this operation.

GONYEA: David Horovitz is editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post. Thank you very much for joining us.

Mr. HOROVITZ: Thank you.

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