Neri Zilber is a journalist covering Middle East politics and an adjunct fellow of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He is the co-author of State with No Army, Army with No State: Evolution of the Palestinian Authority Security Forces 1994-2018. Neri writes regularly for The Daily Beast, Foreign Policy, Politico and other international outlets.
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Analysts remain unconvinced that this is the end of the maritime deal saga. The impending agreement is escalating into the most divisive political issue inside Israel mere weeks before the Nov. 1 election. It could yet prove to be the trigger for military conflict after Israelis go to the polls.
This highly public battle between Israel’s two leading politicians serves to obfuscate one core truth: They’re both opposed to renewing the nuclear accord with Iran and are employing many of the same means (albeit with clear differences in style and tone) towards this end. This is exactly what Lapid has tried to highlight, not least to the Israeli public.
The 80,000 Likud members who voted in the primary election returned a hardline and slavishly pro-Netanyahu slate. The two main goals professed by nearly all of them? To not only restore “King Bibi” to his rightful place atop the country, but to begin a wholesale revolution in Israel’s democratic system.
The situation on the ground in both Israel and Gaza has returned to pre-war “normal,” a testament to the strategic value of the economic and civilian facets of their budding relationship. But absent a longer-term understanding, this precarious dance will just push off another conflagration.
Earlier this year, Israeli military intelligence ruled out the chances of any new deal including Iran’s malign regional activity and of Iranian missile development as extremely unlikely — contrary to demands still aired periodically by certain Israeli officials and U.S. analysts. Today, albeit not widely publicized, in Israeli eyes the nuclear issue should be completely decoupled from the regional dimension, lest it create more bargaining power for Tehran.
While Israel isn’t the U.S., and Lebanon isn’t Afghanistan, the common themes that run through both sets of wars are jarring, especially in the way a Western democracy tries to end a military campaign and how it manages (or not) the fate of local allies who fought alongside it.
The very political figures that Israel’s longest-serving prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu nurtured and elevated conspired to end his reign. They did so, not out of ideological resolve, but out of exasperation that Netanyahu’s last days were following the Trump playbook.
Even amid the weeks of unrest, Israeli military had assessed that Hamas wouldn’t jeopardize the established “rules of the game,” as defense officials unofficially call a years-long pragmatic arrangement between the two sides. But this arrangement, quiet for easing measures, was upended by recent events.
The U.S. and Iran are set on a course for renegotiating the 2015 nuclear deal. While reporting, I found that Israelis see a lot of room to maneuver, particularly in light of Arab countries’ normalization with Israel.
How Dahlan ended up in Abu Dhabi at the side of a crown prince is still shrouded in mystery, although the likeliest explanation is that the connections of Mohammed Rashid, an Iraqi Kurd and the PLO’s former “money man,” paved the way.