What Iran Negotiations and Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations Have in Common

The recent decision by Iran and the U.S. to extend the deadline for an agreement on nuclear weapons is based on a fundamental fallacy that the current American government believes wholeheartedly: that this is a problem that can be solved through further negotiations. In truth, no agreement can be reached because Iran is unwilling to give up its nuclear-weapons program. The same fallacy lies behind the blundering attempts to force an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Elliott Abrams writes:

[T]he beginning of wisdom in both these cases, Iranian and Israeli-Palestinian, is the realization that the fundamental differences cannot be papered over. The Obama administration has tried and tried, and it has failed—not due to a failure of its diplomats to master their briefs, but because the administration did not understand the nature of the problem. Once you recognize that the Ayatollah Khamenei insists on a nuclear-weapons program, and that President Abbas will not and cannot agree to give up the “right of return” and make compromises on Jerusalem, you recognize that more sessions with more diplomats won’t reach a different result. It’s a category error, where a thing belonging to a particular category is presented as belonging to a different category. Here, disputes that are fundamental (because interests are adverse) are presented by the Obama administration as being mere misunderstandings—problems that American good faith and State Department elbow grease can resolve.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Ayatollah Khamenei, Iranian nuclear program, Peace Process, U.S. Foreign policy

The Possible Death of Mohammad Deif, and What It Means

On Saturday, Israeli jets destroyed a building in southern Gaza, killing a Hamas brigade commander named Rafa Salameh. Salameh is one of the most important figures in the Hamas hierarchy, but he was not the primary target. Rather it was Mohammad Deif, who is Yahya Sinwar’s number-two and is thought to be the architect and planner of numerous terrorist attacks, of Hamas’s tunnel network, and of the October 7 invasion itself. Deif has survived at least five Israeli attempts on his life, and the IDF has consequently been especially reluctant to confirm that he had been killed. Yet it seems that it is possible, and perhaps likely, that he was.

Kobi Michael notes that Deif’s demise would have major symbolic value and, moreover, deprive Hamas of important operational know-how. But he also has some words of caution:

The elimination of Deif becomes even more significant given the current reality of severe damage to Hamas’s military wing and its transition to terrorism and guerrilla warfare. However, it is important to remember that organizations such as Hamas and Hizballah are more than the sum of their components or commanders. Israel has previously eliminated the leaders of these organizations and other very senior military figures, and yet the organizations continued to grow, develop, and become more significant security threats to Israel, while establishing their status as political players in the Palestinian and Lebanese arenas.

As for the possibility that Deif’s death will harden Hamas’s position in the hostage negotiations, Tamir Hayman writes:

In my opinion, even if there is a bump in the road now, it is not a strategic one. The reasons that Hamas decided to compromise its demands in the [hostage] deal stem from the operational pressure it is under [and] the fear that the pressure exerted by the IDF will increase.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas