Recent Israeli Legislation Could Pave the Way to Normalization with Saudi Arabia

In 1993, the Israeli Supreme Court demanded that the Shas-party politician Aryeh Deri be fired from his cabinet post because he was about to be indicted on corruption charges—on the grounds that doing otherwise would be “unreasonable.” Deri is now once again the leader of Shas and, thanks to the bill passed by the Knesset last week that removes the Court’s authority to cancel ministerial appointments on “reasonableness” grounds, is poised to join the cabinet once again. While much attention has been paid to the implications of this development for Israel’s internal affairs, Michael Oren observes that it might profoundly affect foreign policy:

The U.S. national security advisor Jake Sullivan visited the Saudi kingdom last week and offered Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman security guarantees and U.S. weapon systems in exchange for a normalization deal with Israel. The prince responded favorably, so long as Israel makes a gesture toward the Palestinians.

The focus on Deri’s criminal past has all but obscured his rather moderate views on foreign policy. By having the bill passed and bringing him back, [the Knesset has made it possible for] Deri to serve as a counterweight to Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, paving the way for the gesture toward the Palestinians. If Smotrich or Ben-Gvir threaten to leave the coalition, they would be replaced by Benny Gantz and his National Unity Party—a maneuver that is [possibly] already in the works.

Connecting these three components into one big puzzle will allow President Biden to preside over a peace-signing ceremony on the White House lawn—an optic that he so desperately needs. The Saudis will get the weapons and guarantees they have long asked for, but the big winner will be Israel: not only will it finally see an end to the conflict with the Sunni world, but it will also get access to the massive Saudi economy, and from there to the markets in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Pakistan. Israel’s diplomatic, economic, and strategic standing will improve manyfold.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Aryeh Deri, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Judicial Reform, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia

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