The Seductive Dangers of an Israel-U.S. Defensive Treaty

Last week, the Israeli minister of strategic affairs, Ron Dermer, visited Washington and met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Among the topics they reportedly discussed were normalization between Jerusalem and Riyadh and the possibility of a limited defense treaty between the U.S. and the Jewish state. Jacob Nagel argues that the benefits of such a formal agreement may not be worth the costs. The very existence of such a treaty, he writes, conveys the message that Israel “lacks confidence in its power and capability to defend itself by itself.” And that’s not the only problem:

A hostile president, in the future, could exploit the treaty against Israel, and there are many ways to do so. . . . But the problem is much deeper. NATO’s Article 5 is the highest level of security guarantee that the U.S. can give to its allies. If the U.S., even according to Article 5, will not defend NATO allies if they will launch a preemptive attack, then the U.S. for sure won’t defend anyone else who has a degree of guarantees that falls even below Article 5 levels—like Israel or Saudi Arabia if they will attack Iran, for example.

It is clear that under any defense treaty, Israel will get less than Article 5 guarantees, so presenting such a treaty as giving Israel greater freedom of action against Iran is wrong.

There is also a danger of curtailing Israeli freedom of action in general, especially vis-à-vis Iran, Russia, and China, regardless of what is written in the treaty. A treaty would motivate the U.S. to prevent escalation, in order to prevent a confrontation that would require the U.S. to intervene, which will put a lot of pressure on Israel not to escalate.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship

Hamas Wants a Renewed Ceasefire, but Doesn’t Understand Israel’s Changed Attitude

Yohanan Tzoreff, writing yesterday, believes that Hamas still wishes to return to the truce that it ended Friday morning with renewed rocket attacks on Israel, but hopes it can do so on better terms—raising the price, so to speak, of each hostage released. Examining recent statements from the terrorist group’s leaders, he tries to make sense of what it is thinking:

These [Hamas] senior officials do not reflect any awareness of the changed attitude in Israel toward Hamas following the October 7 massacre carried out by the organization in the western Negev communities. They continue to estimate that as before, Israel will be willing to pay high prices for its people and that time is working in their favor. In their opinion, Israel’s interest in the release of its people, the pressure of the hostages’ families, and the public’s broad support for these families will ultimately be decisive in favor of a deal that will meet the new conditions set by Hamas.

In other words, the culture of summud (steadfastness), still guides Hamas. Its [rhetoric] does not show at all that it has internalized or recognized the change in the attitude of the Israeli public toward it—which makes it clear that Israel still has a lot of work to do.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security