Tracing the Collapse of Netanyahu’s Coalition

In part, the fall of the current Israeli government can be blamed on the clumsy maneuvering of some of its members. But the underlying cause, argues Haviv Rettig Gur, lies in deep changes in Israel’s political system. When two major parties dominated the Knesset, there was a clear-cut divide between left and right, and each side had its own answer to the Palestinian question, which was the major issue of the day. After the second intifada and the collapse of the Oslo peace process, the system fell apart, leading to a proliferation of small parties, growing cynicism among voters, the rise of a new political class, and a sense of confusion on key issues—all of which contributed to the current crisis. Gur writes:

[The Palestinian] question has now been settled, not because peace has been achieved but because the vast majority of the Israeli public is convinced peace is not possible in the foreseeable future. The second intifada that launched in late 2000 undermined the essential narratives of left and right. Most Israelis never again believed left-wing leaders who argued the Palestinians seek peace, or right-wing leaders who said the Palestinians could be occupied indefinitely. And with the fall of their unifying narratives, the broad-based parties who once represented the widely-held sensibilities on either side collapsed as well. . . . The electorate is more fickle, and more cynical. . . . And those who continue to vote swerve easily from left to right, apparently based more on the personalities of party leaders than on any ideological commitments.

Into this electoral chaos, this crisis of political identity and purpose, a new breed of Israeli politician has arisen. The old defense-establishment elite that once ran the country, from generals like Yitzhak Rabin and Ariel Sharon to former defense-ministry director Shimon Peres, gave way to a new class of PR-savvy, socially minded journalists, businesspeople, and high-minded academics. . . . As politicians sense the fickleness of voters, and are acutely aware that they are competing for a shrunken electorate with a growing list of parties, the difference between governing and electioneering has collapsed.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli politics, Knesset, Labor Party, Likud

If Iran Goes Nuclear, the U.S. Will Be Forced Out of the Middle East

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported in May that Iran has, or is close to having, enough highly enriched uranium to build multiple atomic bombs, while, according to other sources, it is taking steps toward acquiring the technology to assemble such weapons. Considering the effects on Israel, the Middle East, and American foreign policy of a nuclear-armed Iran, Eli Diamond writes:

The basic picture is that the Middle East would become inhospitable to the U.S. and its allies when Iran goes nuclear. Israel would find itself isolated, with fewer options for deterring Iran or confronting its proxies. The Saudis and Emiratis would be forced into uncomfortable compromises.

Any course reversal has to start by recognizing that the United States has entered the early stages of a global conflict in which the Middle East is set to be a main attraction, not a sideshow.

Directly or not, the U.S. is engaged in this conflict and has a significant stake in its outcome. In Europe, American and Western arms are the only things standing between Ukraine and its defeat at the hands of Russia. In the Middle East, American arms remain indispensable to Israel’s survival as it wages a defensive, multifront war against Iran and its proxies Hamas and Hizballah. In the Indo-Pacific, China has embarked on the greatest military buildup since World War II, its eyes set on Taiwan but ultimately U.S. primacy.

While Iran is the smallest of these three powers, China and Russia rely on it greatly for oil and weapons, respectively. Both rely on it as a tool to degrade America’s position in the region. Constraining Iran and preventing its nuclear breakout would keep waterways open for Western shipping and undermine a key node in the supply chain for China and Russia.

Diamond offers a series of concrete suggestions for how the U.S. could push back hard against Iran, among them expanding the Abraham Accords into a military and diplomatic alliance that would include Saudi Arabia. But such a plan depends on Washington recognizing that its interests in Eastern Europe, in the Pacific, and in the Middle East are all connected.

Read more at National Review

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy