President Biden Has a Chance to Foster Peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia

On Tuesday, the White House announced that the president is planning a visit to the Middle East, which will include stops in both Israel and Saudi Arabia. While in Riyadh, President Biden will no doubt endeavor to repair a historic relationship that his administration has thus far done much to undermine. One of the key sticking points involves the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which the kingdom—like Israel—opposes and the U.S. still seeks to revive. Mark Dubowitz and Daniel B. Shapiro suggest ways to bring diplomatic progress nonetheless:

The bridge to overcome this disagreement is to achieve understandings on what follows the nuclear talks, whether they collapse or result in a renewed nuclear deal. In either case, Iran’s implacable hostility can be expected to fuel escalation. Recognizing the severe threat Iran and its proxies will continue to pose to U.S. forces and partners necessitates clear U.S. commitments, underscored by its ongoing presence in the region: to assist in development of integrated regional air defenses; . . . to facilitate interdictions of weapons shipments to proxies; to rally international condemnation of the regime’s interference in its neighbors’ affairs and abuse of its own people; and to prepare military deterrence and defense options, alone or with others, to ensure Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon.

For Biden, the core strategic interest that must be addressed is ensuring that Saudi Arabia continues to orient its policies toward the United States, rather than hedge its bets by leaning toward Russia and China.

Beyond the confines of this visit, it’s in the broader interests of both countries for Saudi Arabia eventually to join the Abraham Accords. This is a priority that Biden should advance, and a stabilized bilateral relationship should enable him to do so in the remaining years of his first term. Growing Israeli-Saudi military and intelligence cooperation suggests the promise of greater commercial, technological, and people-to-people cooperation, and eventual full diplomatic relations. Cementing a coalition of moderate states in the region, advancing Saudi modernization, development, and economic-diversification goals, and—handled sensitively—offering the Palestinians a path to participate in normalization that improves, rather than impedes, prospects for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement are all mutual goals that normalization can advance.

Read more at Politico

More about: Iran, Israel-Arab relations, Joseph Biden, Middle East, 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