PressTV: We would like your view on clashes at the Palestinian camp of Ain Al-Hilweh in Lebanon. Is Israel fueling these hostilities and infiltrating terrorists and Mossad agents into the camp?
Daniel Pipes: Palestinian organizations have a long history of fighting each other due to differences over approach, methods, and personalities, as shown most clearly by the civil war in Gaza in 2007 between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, which left an estimated several hundred dead. Israeli agencies, including Mossad, may have had a small role in exacerbating these conflicts but they are not responsible for the basic hostilities. They are not important factors.
PressTV: Why does Israel repeatedly attack parts of Lebanon?
DP: For over fifty years – since 1969, to be precise – the government of Israel has had a difficult time dealing with enemies based in Lebanon – the PLO earlier, Hizbullah more recently – because the country has always lacked a strong central government capable of controlling or restraining groups intending to attack Israel. Frustrated, Jerusalem has again and again tried to impose its will through direct attacks. These have partially succeeded but never solved the problem for long.
PressTV: Considering the severe political differences inside Israel, does Netanyahu have the ability to deal with the resistance groups and Hezbollah?
DP: Yes, he does; the huge political fight over judicial reform has not significantly weakened the Israeli military. It has hundreds of thousands of soldiers, the great majority of whom will report for duty if called up to fight in Lebanon. As a general rule, autocracies are brittle, democracies are supple.
PressTV: In case of any conflict between Israel and the countries of the region, will America be willing to accompany Netanyahu's government?
DP: Yes, because the only countries that would fight Israel are Iran and its satrapies, meaning Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Syria. The U.S. government stands with Israel in such a conflict.
PressTV: What is Israel's biggest fear in the region?
DP: That the Islamic Republic of Iran acquires nuclear weapons. This has implications for the Jewish state that go well beyond the direct military threat, for the whole region would likely appease Tehran at Jerusalem's expense.