Iran, Syria turning Arab Spring fury towards Israel, warn analysts

Washington, May 16: Israeli officials have warned that Syria and Iran are trying to leverage the unrest in the Middle East and direct attacks against their country.

They have claimed that Sunday's clashes with Arab demonstrators on Israel's borders with Lebanon, Syria, Gaza and West Bank, is a pointer to attempt to draw Israel into the Arab unrest.

The clashes occurred on the occasion of "Nakba" (Catastrophe) the anniversary to commemorate the time when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were expelled or fled from their homes in the war that led to the founding of Israel in 1948.

The chief spokesman of Israel's military, Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, argued that the border protests in Lebanon and Syria bore the "fingerprints of Iranian provocation."

During nearly four months of turmoil around the Arab world, Israel has tried its best to say little lest the revolutionary fervor morph into anger toward the Jewish state, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

The unprecedented breadth of Sunday's border protests is likely to strengthen Israel's anxiety that the so-called Arab Spring will destabilize its neighborhood.

And that will make the Jewish state less likely offer concessions for peace, security and political analysts say.

"For decades, the Arab leaders used Israel as an alternative focus. In my view, this is a return to the era of trying to divert internal dissent into attacks against Israel," says Gerald Steinberg, a professor of political science at Bar Ilan University.

The clashes come on the eve of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to the United States to meet with President Obama and address a joint session of Congress, where he is expected to lay out Israel's vision of the peace process and how the Jewish state sees the turmoil engulfing its neighbors.

[Israeli officials] are going to see this as a plot to pull Israel in as a scapegoat.

This will not be the first time that many countries have tried to blame things on Israel,'' says Meir Javedanfar, a Middle East analyst based in Tel Aviv.

He added: "Israel needs to be careful in terms of protecting its security, but it has to be careful in how it reacts, because it could hurt its diplomatic position.''

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