Lessons in Peacemaking from Israel’s Relations with the Shah’s Iran

Until the 1979 Islamic revolution, Tehran maintained cordial ties with Jerusalem—cultivated as part of David Ben-Gurion’s “periphery strategy” that emphasized diplomacy with countries further afield than Israel’s then-hostile neighbors. Jason Brodsky sees in this relationship a model for the Jewish state to follow as it aims to expand the Abraham Accords to include Saudi Arabia and other Arab states:

Israel aspired to establish formal diplomatic relations with Iran, yet according to a declassified 1959 U.S. intelligence report, Tehran was hesitant to do so because it did not want to offend Arab countries or elements in Iran that would react adversely to overt moves. These sensitivities are reminiscent of Saudi Arabia’s concerns over normalizing ties with Israel today, weighing its own unique equities given King Salman’s role as the custodian of the two holy mosques and the [possible] reaction from the broader Islamic world.

[Yet] the shah of Iran was able to maintain these close ties with Israel while holding diplomatic relations with the Arab world, which remained hostile to the Jewish state, although Egypt severed ties [with the shah] in 1960 in protest over his affirmation of de-facto recognition of Israel. The shah once told a Lebanese publication that there was “no contradiction” between Iran’s support for Arab countries and economic ties with Israel. Likewise, leaders of the Abraham Accords countries, namely the United Arab Emirates, have been able to maintain full diplomatic relations with both Israel and the Islamic Republic. This is especially relevant after Saudi Arabia agreed to restore ties with Iran in March 2023 while at the same time continuing to eye a normalization deal with Israel.

In the end, Ben-Gurion’s description of ties with Iran in the 1950s—“friendly, informal but not hidden, and based on mutual benefit”—offered a template for Israel’s development of relations with Arab countries years later. Currently, Israel’s relationship with the Abraham Accords countries can be characterized as more advanced than they were under the shah of Iran, namely because what was more informal and partial then is formal and complete today with regional players like Bahrain and the UAE.

Read more at Middle East Institute

More about: Abraham Accords, Iran, Israel diplomacy

 

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security