Israel Is Winning on the Diplomatic Front

If the ICJ verdict is a tactical success in the midst of a strategic defeat, a recent warning to the Jewish state from an anonymous senior Emirati official is the reverse. The official told a journalist on Wednesday that if the Gaza War drags on, relations between Jerusalem and Dubai could devolve into a “cold peace.” (To recall what that would mean, look no further than Jordan, whose security concerns are deeply tied up with Israel’s and where a restaurant recently opened with the name “October 7.” The name was taken off the establishment after photographs drew Western attention.) The warmth of the peace with the UAE has so far distinguished it from previous treaties with Arab states.

Yet the fact that this warning is off the record, and its implication that severing relations isn’t up for consideration, point to the durability of Israel’s new regional alliances. Edward Luttwak argues that, both in the Middle East and beyond, Jerusalem is winning the diplomatic war:

Before launching its [1967] pre-emptive attack, only France had been willing to sell weapons to Israel, but Charles de Gaulle stopped all further sales as soon as the fighting started. In Rome, meanwhile, a cargo of gas masks headed for Tel Aviv was intercepted at the airport, even though Egypt’s occupying force had recently killed many in Yemen with phosgene and mustard gas.

This time, 50 years later, it has all been very different. The U.S., UK, and European Union did not try to stop the Israeli counteroffensive against Hamas. The U.S. found itself unimpeded in sending military supplies, while the Italian government came out in full support of Israel.

The necessary ceasefire prelude to every post-war plan is still being held up by Hamas, which demands full control of the entire Gaza Strip, as if it had just won a war. So long as it persists, the Israeli army can continue its war—knowing that, this time, its days of isolation are over.

Read more at UnHerd

More about: Gaza War 2023, Israel diplomacy, Six-Day War


Iran’s Calculations and America’s Mistake

There is little doubt that if Hizballah had participated more intensively in Saturday’s attack, Israeli air defenses would have been pushed past their limits, and far more damage would have been done. Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack, trying to look at things from Tehran’s perspective, see this as an important sign of caution—but caution that shouldn’t be exaggerated:

Iran is well aware of the extent and capability of Israel’s air defenses. The scale of the strike was almost certainly designed to enable at least some of the attacking munitions to penetrate those defenses and cause some degree of damage. Their inability to do so was doubtless a disappointment to Tehran, but the Iranians can probably still console themselves that the attack was frightening for the Israeli people and alarming to their government. Iran probably hopes that it was unpleasant enough to give Israeli leaders pause the next time they consider an operation like the embassy strike.

Hizballah is Iran’s ace in the hole. With more than 150,000 rockets and missiles, the Lebanese militant group could overwhelm Israeli air defenses. . . . All of this reinforces the strategic assessment that Iran is not looking to escalate with Israel and is, in fact, working very hard to avoid escalation. . . . Still, Iran has crossed a Rubicon, although it may not recognize it. Iran had never struck Israel directly from its own territory before Saturday.

Byman and Pollack see here an important lesson for America:

What Saturday’s fireworks hopefully also illustrated is the danger of U.S. disengagement from the Middle East. . . . The latest round of violence shows why it is important for the United States to take the lead on pushing back on Iran and its proxies and bolstering U.S. allies.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy