Thoughts on Israel

We express our sympathy for the people of Israel who have suffered a brutal attack from HAMAS and its backers.

An act of such barbarity is bound to evoke a response and lead to further escalation of violence in the region. But that seems to be the intention.

Martin Indyk, former US Ambassador to Israel (1995-1997 and 2000-2001) and special envoy under President Obama for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations (2013-2014), was asked why this occurred now, after progress seemed to be made on an Israel-Palestine settlement:

I think you have to consider the context at this moment. The Arab world is coming to terms with Israel. Saudi Arabia is talking about normalizing relations with Israel. As part of that potential deal, the United States is pressing Israel to make concessions to the Palestinian Authority—Hamas’s enemy. So this was an opportunity for Hamas and its Iranian backers to disrupt the whole process, which I think in retrospect was deeply threatening to both of them. I don’t think that Hamas follows dictation from Iran, but I do think they act in coordination, and they had a common interest in disrupting the progress that was underway and that was gaining a lot of support among Arab populations. The idea was to embarrass those Arab leaders who have made peace with Israel, or who might do so, and to prove that Hamas and Iran are the ones who are able to inflict military defeat on Israel.

There are talks going on regarding a peace deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and conversations about U.S. security guarantees for Saudi Arabia. In all likelihood, a primary motivation for Hamas and Iran was a desire to disrupt that deal, because it threatened to isolate them. And this was a very good way to destroy its prospects, at least in the near term. Once the Palestinian issue returns to front and center, and Arabs around the Middle East are watching American weapons in Israeli hands killing large numbers of Palestinians, that will ignite a very strong reaction….

….And in terms of escalation, the party to watch most closely is Hezbollah. If the Palestinian death toll rises, Hezbollah will be tempted to join the fray. They have 150,000 rockets they can rain down on Israel’s main cities, and that will lead to an all-out war not just in Gaza but in Lebanon, too. And everybody would get dragged in that situation. (Foreign Affairs)


The aim of the attack was to provoke a violent retaliation which would disrupt an Arab-Israeli peace accord.
Starting another war would play into the perpetrator’s hands.
Netanyahu prides himself on being cautious. Now is the time to show restraint, bolster Israel’s defenses and continue to pursue peace in the region — which would sideline HAMAS and its Iranian backers.

8 Replies to “Thoughts on Israel”

  1. please concentrate on things you know about not things you think you know
    your knowledge of the middle east is almost certainly similar to mine ie very limited
    i enjoy your big picture economic posts and i did not subscribe to read your geopolitical musings

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Michael.
      I am no Middle East expert and do not pretend to have any great insight into how conflict in the region could be resolved.
      My sympathies lie with the victims of the attack.
      My observations were simply intended to highlight the need for restraint in order not to derail initiatives which stand to benefit Israel in the long-term and hopefully reduce the cycle of violence.

  2. If you rely on Martin Indyk for Middle East analysis, you’re bound to reach wrong conclusions, as you have done in this instance.
    You cannot “sideline HAMAS and its Iranian backers” any more than you could sideline Hitler.
    Showing restraint that allows Hamas to survive and rebuild and repeat their heinous crimes at ever-increasing scale is the LAST thing Israel needs to do now….

  3. Who on earth suggested that “progress seemed to be made on an Israel-Palestine settlement”??? What sort of settlement can be reached with parties that want to destroy you???

  4. Now is the time to DETER an escalation by Hezbollah, the IRGC and the alphabet soup of Iranian murderous proxies, while obliterating Hamas once and for all time.
    Thankfully, Biden had apparently seen that light… the first correct foreign-policy decision he’s made in 40 years.

  5. From Greg Carlsson (The Economist): “Fundamentally, though, what we’re seeing is the limits of the Abraham accords. There was a lot of hype about how they would cement an anti-Iranian alliance and help forge a new security architecture in the Middle East. Now, in a moment of crisis, it’s clear they didn’t.

    Arab rulers all worry about how the Gaza war might affect them: fears of refugee flows in Egypt, unrest in Jordan and regional conflict that touches the Gulf. And those concerns, not surprisingly, dictate how the region responded to Blinken and to the events of the past 11 days.

    Some of this is just posturing. In off-record conversations over the past week I’ve heard various Arab officials discuss Hamas, and the war in Gaza, with the kind of language you’d expect to hear from right-wing Israeli lawmakers. But they can’t say these things in public…..”

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